Room: H&SS 7077 Prof. Eric Watkins
Times: Wednesday 1:00-3:50 Office: H&SS 8018
Term: Spring Quarter 2005 Office tel: 822-0082
Office Hours: Th 10:00-11:00 & by appointment E-mail:  

Phil 215: Kantian Epistemology

The primary goal of this seminar is to investigate, from an historical and systematic perspective, Kantian answers to four sets of fundamental epistemological questions.
- What epistemic faculties might we use to attain knowledge? (Sensibility, Understanding, Reason) What is the nature of these faculties? (active vs. passive, intuitive vs. discursive) What type of representations is each faculty responsible for? (intuitions, concepts, judgments, inferences, ideas) What features does each kind of representation have?
- Is there a Myth of the Given? Or, what reason is there to reject empiricism, i.e., the view that sensations (or sense data) alone suffice for knowledge? If sensations are not sufficient for knowledge, are they even necessary? If so, what exactly can they contribute to our knowledge?
- Why can unconditioned objects not be given to us in experience?
- Why can we not know the fundamental level of reality (e.g., God, freedom, and our soul), which Kant calls things in themselves?

I. Tentative Reading Schedule (subject to adjustment)

W 3-30 Introduction
  Guyer & Wood, Introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason, pp. 1-76.
W 4-6 & 4-13

Kant's Theory of Faculties: Sensibility, Understanding, and Reason

  Kant, Tr. Aesthetic, A19/B33-A22/B36
Kant, Tr. Logic, First Part, Tr. Analytic, A50/B74-A83/B116
Kant, Tr. Logic, Second Part, Tr. Dialectic, A298/B355-A320/B377
  Hanna, "Kant's Theory of Judgment"
*Smit, "Kant on Marks and the Immediacy of Intuition"
W 4-20 & 4-27 The Myth of the Given, or Why can't we know objects through sensations alone?

Sellars, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, Chapters 1-4 & 8-16
McDowell, "Having the World In View: Sellars, Kant, and Intentionality," Lectures I & II.

  *Sellars, Science and Metaphysics, Ch. 1
*Watkins, "The Necessity and Role of Sensibility in Cognition"
W 5-4 & 5-11 Why can't we know unconditioned objects through experience?
  Kant, The Antinomy of Pure Reason, Sections 3-8 A462/B490-A516/B544
  Watkins, "Kant's Antinomies, Sections 3-8"
Ameriks, "The Critique of Metaphysics"
  *Third Antinomy and Resolution (or any of the other Antinomies and their Resolutions)
W 5-18 & 6-1 Why can't we know things in themselves?
  Strawson, The Bounds of Sense, Part IV, Sect. 5, pp. 249-256.
Langton, Kantian Humility, Ch. 2, pp. 15-47
Ameriks, "Kant and Short Arguments to Humility"
  *Van Cleve, "Receptivity and Our Knowledge of Intrinsic Properties"
W 6-8 Term Paper due (by e-mail)

II. Class Format:

Each topic will be discussed over two weeks. The first week will be devoted to laying out the basic structure of a particular issue and a fundamental question that naturally arises, while the second week will consist of developing different possible answers that question in detail. Since the course is designed to be of interest to those with either historical or systematic interests, one should be able to flourish without any detailed priori knowledge of Kant's theoretical philosophy.

III. Requirements:

Two short papers (4 pages): The short papers will be due on Monday after a given topic has been introduced and before the second session has taken place. The short papers should state as concisely as possible the main features of an answer to the question posed at the end of the first session.

One term paper (15-20 pages): The expectation is that your term paper will emerge naturally out of one of the shorter papers. Approval of term paper topics is expected, since I may be able to point out relevant secondary literature. Extensions are permitted only in the most extreme of circumstances (e.g., illness) and must be requested in advance.

Class participation: Especially during the second week of each topic, class participation is required.

IV. Bibliography

Ameriks, Karl, "The Critique of Metaphysics," ms. (forthcoming in Cambridge Companion to Kant, 2nd Edition, New York: Cambridge University Press).
-----, "Kant and Short Arguments to Humility," in Kant's Legacy: Essays in Honor of Lewis White Beck, ed. P. Cicovacki, Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2001, pp. 167-194.

Hanna, Robert, "Kant's Theory of Judgment"

Langton, Rae, Kantian Humility: Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

McDowell, John, The Woodbridge Lectures "Having the World In View: Sellars, Kant, and Intentionality," Lectures I and II, Journal of Philosophy 95 (1998) pp. 431-470.

Sellars, Wilfrid, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.
-----, Science and Metaphysics: Variations on Kantian Themes, London: Routledge, 1967, reprinted Atascadero: Ridgeview, 1992.

Smit, Houston, "Kant on Marks and the Immediacy of Intuition" Philosophical Review 109 (2002) pp. 235-266.

Strawson, Peter, The Bounds of Sense, New York: Routledge, 1966.

Van Cleve, James, "Receptivity and Our Knowledge of Intrinsic Properties" Philosophy and Phenomenological Research LXV (2002), pp. 218-237.

Watkins, Eric, "The Necessity and Role of Sensibility in Cognition," ms.
-----, "Kant's Antinomies: Sections 3-8," in Kooperativer Kommentar zu Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft, ed. G. Mohr & M. Willaschek (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1998) pp. 445-462.

Readings not available on-line will be placed in the philosophy department library for fotocopying.