Reply to Watt: Epistemic Humility, Objective Validity, Logical Derivability


DENNIS SCHULTING | Kant’s Radical Subjectivism. Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction | Palgrave Macmillan 2017


By Dennis Schulting

Robert Watt has provided an excellent précis of the main theme of my book, namely Kant’s radical subjectivism, for which I am extremely thankful. I could not have written a more succinct summary that captures the essence, give or take a few details, of what I take to be Kant’s metaphilosophical stance in the Transcendental Deduction (henceforth simply ‘the Deduction’). So I’m not going to repeat here in my own words what Watt wrote. Rather, what I am going to do is respond to the lingering questions that Watt has, in particular, as to (1) how I see the issue of “epistemic humility” and how this ties in with my thesis of radical subjectivism, and (2) why I think objective validity is not a feature of intuitions, making my position on nonconceptualism vulnerable, in Watt’s view, to being nothing more than a closet conceptualism. Another issue that Watt raises concerns what is probably the most controversial aspect of my reading of the Deduction: namely (3) the contentious claim, which I defended at length in my previous book (Schulting 2012, henceforth KDA), that the categories are all a priori derived from the principle of apperception. Despite Watt’s serious reservations and Corey Dyck’s and Andrew Stephenson’s earlier misgivings, as well as Thomas Land’s doubts about this claim (Dyck 2014; Stephenson 2014; Land 2018; cf. by contrast Quarfood 2014), I remain firmly committed to it as what is in my view the only way to explain the systematicity claim that Kant makes with respect to the two tables, as well as the only way to understand what I call the reciprocity claim that is central to the Deduction (following Henry Allison). I realise I’m perhaps a lone voice in this in current Kant scholarship, but I take comfort in the knowledge of being in the august company of Klaus Reich and Michael Wolff, who both defend the idea.[1]

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On Schulting on Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Subjectivism in the Transcendental Deduction


DENNIS SCHULTING | On Hegel’s Critique of Kant’s Subjectivism in the Transcendental Deduction‘, in Kant’s Radical Subjectivism. Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction | Palgrave Macmillan 2017



By Paul Giladi

I would like to begin by thanking Dennis Schulting for his warm invitation to write a response piece to the chapter in his new monograph that deals with Hegel’s critique of Kant. I learned a lot from his sensitive reflections on Kant and Hegel; in what follows, I hope my thoughts on the issue of Kant’s subjectivism are both coherent and repay Schulting’s kindness in sufficient German Idealist currency.

To Kantians, Hegel’s investigations into the logico-metaphysical structure of discursive thought have an insulting whiff of the metaphysical tradition Kant had painstakingly criticised; to many Hegelians, Hegel’s investigations into the logico-metaphysical structure of discursive thought represents the crowning glory of speculative idealism over Kant’s transcendental idealism. Historically, many seem content to either just dismiss Hegel summarily or uncritically follow him. However, as William Bristow nicely put it, we need to “develop and construct Hegel’s objection [to Kant] carefully and critically” (2007:4). Read more

Robert Watt on Dennis Schulting’s “Kant’s Radical Subjectivism”


DENNIS SCHULTING | Kant’s Radical Subjectivism: Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction | London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017


By Robert Watt

Dennis Schulting’s Kant’s Radical Subjectivism: Perspectives on the Transcendental Deduction (KRS) is full of big ideas. Its central claim is that Kant is a “radical subjectivist about the possibility of knowledge” (p. 35), and that recognising this is crucial if we want to save the Transcendental Deduction (henceforth ‘the Deduction’) from the “standard charges of incoherence, inconsistency, or relativism/scepticism” (p. 22). In the course of defending this claim, Schulting addresses a number of important issues regarding the interpretation of the Deduction, including the alleged logical gap in Kant’s argument, the continuing debate between conceptualists and non-conceptualists, and his own suggestion in his previous book Kant’s Deduction and Apperception: Explaining the Categories (KDA) that the Deduction contains a “logical derivation” of the Categories from self-consciousness.
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The Unity of Cognition and the Subjectivist vs. “Transformative” Approaches to the B-Deduction—Comments on James Conant


JAMES CONANT | ‘Why Kant is not a Kantian’ — Philosophical Topics 44(1) (2016): 75–125 / “Die Einheit des Erkenntnisvermögens bei Kant” —In A. Kern & C. Kietzmann, Selbstbewusstes Leben. Texte zu einer transformativen Theorie der menschlichen Subjektivität, pp. 229–69 | Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017 / ‘Kant’s Critique of the Layer-Cake Conception of Human Mindedness in the B Deduction’—In J. O’Shea (ed.), Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Critical Guide (Cambridge UP, 2017), pp. 120–39


This is the second essay in a series of critical engagements with important recent articles or papers by prominent Kant or Hegel scholars, including two or more critics and a reply by the author. In this second instalment, Dennis Schulting critically discusses James Conant’s recent article on the Transcendental Deduction; Conant’s reply to both this and Sacha Golob’s essay, published earlier, will be published in due course


By Dennis Schulting

In an illuminating new essay ‘Die Einheit des Erkenntnisvermögens bei Kant’ (Conant 2017a), James Conant critically addresses what he argues is a widespread assumption in modern philosophy, namely, the assumption that our rational capacity to know is a capacity that is somehow “added” or tacked on to the capacity that we humans share with other animals, that is, our receptive capacity for sensations, our sensibility.[1] This is the so-called “additive” theory of cognition, more specifically of the relation between sensibility and the understanding.[2] He addresses this assumption by looking at the main argument of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction. Let me say upfront that I think Conant’s paper is one of the very few long-form pieces on the central thrust of the Deduction that I have read from the last twenty years or so, if not longer, that are as rhetorically strong as they are, on the whole, both interpretatively and philosophically appealing. I believe it is one of those papers that will, or at any rate should, be seen as a standard reference in the same way that Dieter Henrich’s influential article on the ‘two-step’ procedure of the B-Deduction has been—Conant indeed also refers to Henrich’s now famous ‘two-step’ proposal, but thinks that his own construal avoids what, in Conant’s view, can be seen as the delusive nature of Henrich’s overall framework, which suggests that there are indeed two independent, separably intelligible “steps in a proof” (Conant 2016:111).
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