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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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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