The Proof Structure of Kant's A-Edition Objective Deduction

In Giuseppe Motta & Dennis Schulting (eds.), Kants transzendentale Deduktion der Kategorien: Neue Interpretationen / Kant's Transcendental Deduction of the Categories: New Interpretations. Berlin: DeGruyter (forthcoming)
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Kant's A-Edition objective deduction is naturally (and has traditionally been) divided into two arguments: an " argument from above" and one that proceeds " von unten auf." This would suggest a picture of Kant's procedure in the objective deduction as first descending and ascending the same ladder, the better, perhaps, to test its durability or to thoroughly convince the reader of its soundness. There are obvious obstacles to such a reading, however; and in this chapter I will argue that the arguments from above and below constitute different, albeit importantly inter-related, proofs. Rather than drawing on the differences in their premises, however, I will highlight what I take to be the different concerns addressed and, correspondingly, the distinct conclusions reached by each. In particular, I will show that both arguments can be understood to address distinct specters, with the argument from above addressing an internal concern generated by Kant’s own transcendental idealism, and the argument from below seeking to dispel a more traditional, broadly Humean challenge to the understanding’s role in experience. These distinct concerns also imply that these arguments yield distinct conclusions, though I will show that they are in fact complementary.

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Corey W. Dyck
University of Western Ontario


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