PHIL 285 -- Kantian Perspectives on Concepts
Winter 2008

Instructor:    Clinton Tolley
   office:   HSS 8061
   hours:   Thurs 2-4pm & by appt.
   phone:  2-2686
   email:   ctolley [at]

Instructor:   Eric Watkins
   office:   HSS 8018
   hours:   Mon 10-11:30am & by appt.
   phone:  2-0082
   email:   ewatkins [at]

Syllabus [pdf]


Time:        Tues, 2:00-4:50pm
Location:  Philosophy Seminar Room -- HSS 7th fl. [map]

Required textbook

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge edition)
Kant, Lectures on Logic (Cambridge edition)

Other readings will be made available electronically via WebCT.

Course description

Topics to be addressed include:

* the difference (if any) between concepts and: predicates, universals, properties, classes;

* the relation between concepts and intuitions;

* the relation between concepts and objects;

* the function of concepts in perception;

* concept-acquisition and concept-formation;

* the independence (if any) of the conceptual from the non-conceptual;

* the nature of the generality and determinability of a concept;

* the role of reference and inference in the articulation of conceptual content;

* the treatment of concepts in formal logic;

* the difference between ordinary (empirical) concepts (e.g., 'dog') and 'pure' concepts, such as categories ('substance', 'accident', 'reality') and logical concepts ('subject', 'predicate', 'affirmation').

We will approach these topics, first, by trying to reconstruct what Kant himself has to say about them, and then by comparing and contrasting Kant's own position with the views of more recent philosophers writing from a broadly 'Kantian' perspective, including: Frege, Cassirer, Sellars, Strawson, Hintikka, Parsons, Friedman, McDowell, Brandom, Cassam, Ginsborg, and Ameriks.

Reference links

Kant's gesammelte Schriften

searchable html of Akademie Vols 1-23, including G.F. Meier's 1752 Auszug aus der Vernunftlehre, the textbook Kant used as the basis of his lectures on logic; maintained by the Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaften (IfK; formerly 'Institut für Kommunikationsforschung und Phonetik') at
Universität Bonn

Kant in the Classroom

indispensable collection of biographical and bibliographical material relevant to the intepretation of Kant's lectures, maintained by Steve Naragon (Manchester College)

Course URL

last updated: January 6th, 2008
maintained by: Clinton Tolley