It's generally well-known that Kant was responding, amongst other influences, to Hume's critique of the empirical method on purely logical grounds. One could consider him as a modern-day Pyrrhonniste.

The problem of induction is sourced from a brief argument in Hume's Treatise, but the SEP shows a discussion in thoroughly analytic terms - Popper and Carnap are mentioned, for example.

What was Kant's response to the same question, if he in fact did respond to it? It seems likely that a response could be fashioned out of his philosophy on the basis of his categories as pure concepts of his understanding.

Question: How does Kant, or Kantians or neo-Kantians solve or understand the problem of induction?

  • 1
    Am I wrong to assume that the SEP answers this here: plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-hume-causality?
    – user3164
    Jun 23, 2014 at 19:59
  • @Watson: I think it does:"It is in precisely this way that Kant thinks that he has an answer to Hume's skeptical problem of induction: the problem, in Kant's terms, of grounding the transition from merely “comparative” to “strict universality”. Jun 23, 2014 at 20:08
  • Well, there you go then. :)
    – user3164
    Jun 23, 2014 at 20:10
  • @Watson: its pretty dense, but luckily PVJ has done a precis below. Jun 23, 2014 at 20:11
  • I think Kant states that induction is unreliable, but not necessarily invalid and the scientific method holds despite the unreliability. Jun 15, 2019 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


In short, Kant's answer is that 'causality' isn't, contra Hume, merely constant perceived conjunction. If this is the case, then the problem of induction applies and it is not possible to infer that there is a necessary connection between a cause and its effect. Instead, Kant argues that causality is an a priori concept of the faculty of understanding. Because the concept of causality a priori mediates our experience of the world it isn't a purely subjective matter, as Hume claimed. The categories of understanding, among which 'Causality and Dependence', a priori structure our experience of the world and thus license the idea of necessary connection.

That said, it should be noted Kant doesn't deny that there are causal laws which lack the necessary character of 'pure' causal laws.

Since you mentioned the SEP, you might want to have a look at the entry on Kant and Hume on Causality. It discusses the problem you want to address in much more detail.

  • thanks, @Watson has already mentioned that particular reference. Jun 23, 2014 at 20:10
  • @MoziburUllah You're right, I hadn't seen the comment before posting!
    – PVJ
    Jun 23, 2014 at 20:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .