PHIL Seminar: “Kant on Mechanistic Explanation and the Metaphysics”, Aaron Wells, 3:30PM March 31 (EN)

Title: Kant on Mechanistic Explanation and the Metaphysics of Magnitude

By Aaron Wells (Paderborn, Philosophy)

Date: Thursday March 31, 2022
Time: 1530-1700

Zoom: go to

Abstract: For Kant, the possibility of “proper cognition of nature” requires that we try as far as we can to explain all material things, including organisms, in a mechanistic way. Mechanism is widely agreed to involve the explanation of wholes in terms of their parts. However, there is no consensus on how Kant justifies or grounds this important claim. I argue that a key role in justifying the part–whole content of Kant’s claims about mechanism is played by a priori principles which he takes to determine the metaphysics of magnitude. One of these principles is constitutive of the magnitudes of objects of experience, but because of distinctive features of Kant’s idealism, further regulative principles are also required.

About the speaker: Aaron Wells is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Paderborn. He earned a BA from the University of Chicago, and an MA and PhD in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. His primary research interests are in the history of modern philosophy, especially Du Châtelet and Kant.