On the possibility of Kant's answer to Hume : subjective necessity and objective validity
This thesis argues that Kant is able to maintain the distinctiveness of his position in opposition to Hume's naturalism (contrary to the arguments of R. A. Mall and L. W. Beck) without invoking premises which are question begging with regard to Hume's scepticism. The argument of Kant's Transcendental Deduction of the Categories, as presented in the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, is considered in relation to the two sets of criticism that have been levelled at it from its publication up to the present day, both of which aim to demonstrate that synthetic a priori judgements are subjectively necessary but without objective validity. The first set of criticisms involves problems raised with regard to the status of transcendental arguments. The difficulties identified here (by B. Stroud, M. S. Gram, and others) are that the Deduction can either, at best, show that it is necessary for experience to be regarded in a certain way without demonstrating anything as to the nature of experience as such, or the argument is circular in that it begins by making assumptions regarding the nature of our experience. Alternatively, if the Deduction is taken to establish the objective nature of concepts via an analysis of the conditions under which it is possible for us to have some knowledge of ourselves, then incoherence is said to arise because this requires either an implausible reflective theory of consciousness (according to D. Henrich) or that we have knowledge of the subject-in-itself (as held by J. G. Fichte and other contemporaries of Kant). Through a consideration of both the historical and contemporary manifestations of these criticisms, the thesis advances an interpretation of the Deduction, with special attention paid to the role and nature of the subject, which does not fall prey to the alleged incoherence. As such, the thesis defends both the distinctiveness and legitimacy of transcendental philosophy.