Transcendental Deduction Against Hume's Challenge to Reason

Kant-e-Print 15 (2):6-31 (2020)
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From the second half of the last century, there has been a widespread view in the Anglophone world that Kant’s transcendental deduction (aka TD) aims to vindicate our common-sense view of the world as composed of public and objective particulars against some unqualified forms of skepticism. This widespread assumption has raised serious doubt not only about the success of TD but also about the very nature of its argument in both editions of the Critique. Yet, if there is a connection between TD and global skepticism, the intriguing question is: Who is this skeptic? According to Strawson, “the skeptic” is a hypothesis of a purely sense-datum experience. In contrast, the fact that TD turns on the key notion of self-consciousness has induced several other scholars to assume that the skeptic is no none but a Cartesian external-world skeptic. None of those readings find textual support or are compatible with the very structure of the first Critique. The question is: Does this mean that TD aims only to undermine empiricism, as Guyer suggests? I do not believe so. I am pretty convinced that TD addresses a peculiar form of global skepticism, namely “Hume’s challenge to reason.” Assuming that we cognize (erkennen) and experience (erfahren) appearances as objects as a requirement of Newtonian physics, TD aims to provide a justification of the principle that nature is uniform that is superior to Hume’s justification.

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Roberto Horácio De Pereira
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro


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