Kantian Causality and Quantum Quarks: The Compatibility between Quantum Mechanics and Kant's Phenomenal World

Stephen R Palmquist


Quantum indeterminism seems incompatible with Kant's defense of causality in his Second Analogy. The Copenhagen interpretation also takes quantum theory as evidence for anti-realism. This first article of a two-part series argues that the law of causality, as transcendental, applies only to the world as observable, not to hypothetical (unobservable) objects such as quarks, detectable only by high energy accelerators. Taking Planck's constant and the speed of light as the lower and upper bounds of observability provides a way of interpreting the observables of quantum mechanics as empirically real even though they are transcendentally (i.e., pre-observationally) ideal.


Kant; quantum theory; Copenhagen interpretation; indeterminism; perspectives; law of causality; transcendental idealism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1387/theoria.1312