Kant, causation and laws of nature

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In the Second Analogy, Kant argues that every event has a cause. It remains disputed what this conclusion amounts to. Does Kant argue only for the Weak Causal Principle that every event has some cause, or for the Strong Causal Principle that every event is produced according to a universal causal law? Existing interpretations have assumed that, by Kant’s lights, there is a substantive difference between the two. I argue that this is false. Kant holds that the concept of cause contains the notion of lawful connection, so it is analytic that causes operate according to universal laws. He is explicit about this commitment, not least in his derivation of the Categorical Imperative in Groundwork III. Consequently, Kant’s move from causal rules to universal laws is much simpler than previously assumed. Given his commitments, establishing the Strong Causal Principle requires no more argument than establishing the Weak Causal Principle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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