This article concerns Quentin Meillassoux’s claim that Kant’s revolution is responsible for philosophy’s catastrophic loss of the ‘great outdoors’, of our knowledge of things as they are in themselves. I argue that Meillassoux’s critique of Kant’s ‘weak’ correlationism and his defence of ‘strong’ correlationism are predicated on a fallacious argument (termed ‘the Gem’ by David Stove) and the traditional, but in my view mistaken, metaphysical interpretation of Kant’s transcendental distinction. I draw on Henry Allison’s interpretation of Kant’s idealism to argue that when Kant’s transcendental distinction is understood epistemologically we can avoid the fallacious reasoning underpinning Meillassoux’s argument, and at the very least attenuate his concerns about the ‘Kantian catastrophe’.
Can phenomenologists allow for the existence of unobservable entities such as atoms, electrons, and quarks? Can we justifiably believe in the existence of entities that are in principle unobservable? This paper addresses the relationship between Husserlian transcendental phenomenology and scientific realism. More precisely, the focus is on the question of whether there are basic epistemological principles phenomenologists are committed to that have anti-realist consequences with respect to unobservable entities. This question is relevant since Husserl’s basic epistemological principles, such as the “principle of all principles,” seem to suggest that epistemic justification is limited to what can be originally given in the sense that if an object cannot be given in an originary presentive intuition, then one cannot be justified in believing that this object exists. It is the main aim of this paper to show (i) that interpretative reasons exist for not reading Husserl in such a way and (ii) that systematic reasons exist as to why phenomenologists should not subscribe to this criterion. I shall put forward a different criterion of justification that satisfies the spirit of Husserlian transcendental phenomenology and allows for justifiably believing in the existence of unobservable scientific entities.
The Verisimilitudinarian approach to scientific progress (VS, for short) is traditionally considered a realist-correspondist model to explain the proximity of our best scientific theories to the way things really are in the world out there (ʻthe Truthʻ, with the capital ʻtʻ). However, VS is based on notions, such as ʻestimated verisimilitudeʻ or ʻapproximate truthʻ, that dilute the model in a functionalist-like theory. My thesis, then, is that VS tries to incorporate notions, such as ʻprogressʻ, in a pre-constituted metaphysical conception of the world, but fails in providing a fitting framework. The main argument that I will develop to support this claim is that the notions that they use to explain scientific progress (ʻestimated verisimilitudeʻ or ʻapproximate truthʻ) have nothing to do with ʻthe Truthʻ. After presenting Cevolani and Tamboloʻs answer (2013) to Birdʻs arguments (2007), I will claim that VS sacrifices the realist-correspondist truth in favor of an epistemic notion of truth, which can obviously be compatible with certain kinds of realism but not with the one the authors have in mind (the correspondence between our theories and the way things really are).