Kant's Modalities of Judgment



Abstract: This paper proposes a way to understand Kant's modalities of judgment—problematic, assertoric, and apodeictic—in terms of the location of a judgment in an inference. Other interpretations have tended to understand these modalities of judgment in terms of one or other conventional notion of modality. For example, Mattey (1986) argues that we should take them to be connected to notions of epistemic or doxastic modality. I shall argue that this is wrong, and that these kinds of interpretation of the modality of judgments cannot be reconciled with a key claim made by Kant, namely, that the modality of a judgment does not contribute to its content, and has nothing to do with the matter that is judged. I offer an alternative interpretation based upon Kant's explicating these modalities in terms of the location of a judgment in an inference, whereby the modality of a judgment is determined by the role a judgment plays in a given course of reasoning. If I am right, then Kant in fact presents an intriguing thesis pertaining to the inferential status and potential of all our judgments.