The Central Role of Cognition in Kant's Transcendental Deduction

Dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington (2016)
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Abstract
I argue that Kant’s primary epistemological concern in the Critique of Pure Reason’s transcendental deduction is empirical cognition. I show how empirical cognition is best understood as “rational sensory discrimination”: the capacity to discriminate sensory objects through the use of concepts and with a sensitivity to the normativity of reasons. My dissertation focuses on Kant’s starting assumption of the transcendental deduction, which I argue to be the thesis that we have empirical cognition. I then show how Kant’s own subjective deduction fleshes out his conception of empirical cognition and is intertwined with key steps in the transcendental deduction’s arguments that the categories have objective validity and that we have synthetic a priori cognition.
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