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Kant’s A priori Concept Use: The Question of Justification 

By 

Francis Israel Minimah Ph.D. Department of Philosophy, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria E-mail: f_minimah@yahoo.com Tel: +2348033765513 

Abstract 

At the beginning of what is justly regarded as the heart of the first Critique – ‘the Transcendental Deduction’ – Kant distinguishes between quid facti (the question of fact) and quid juris (the ‘question of right’) of concept use. The quid facti of concept use then pertains merely to whether we do in fact employ concept of a given type; the quid juris by contrast, refers to whether it is right or legitimate for us to do so. As Kant sees it, a quid juris rarely arises for empirical concept use as they are derived from experience. But since a priori concepts cannot be so derived, their employment brings with it a quid juris and without an adequate response to that question, the legitimacy of Kant’s use of any a priori concepts hangs in the balance. His whole argument is that since we cannot deduce the categories of the understanding through experience because they are a priori, necessary conditions of knowledge, a transcendental deduction is required. Thus, for Kant to deduce the a priori concepts is to offer a justification for his explanation that their application to experience is legitimate. By subjecting Kant’s argumentative strategy of a priori concept use to the weighing scale of analyses, the work raises very critical questions as to whether he is entitled to use them as he did. 

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Keywords: A Priori Concepts, Metaphysical Deduction, Transcendental Deduction, Justification, (Validation). 

Introduction 

Kant’s general problem in the Critique of Pure Reason is in response to the question “How is knowledge possible?” that is how is it that we can have the knowledge of reality a priori? In answering this question, Kant discusses many important epistemological and metaphysical problems namely; the existence and nature of a priori concepts, his distinctive method of transcendental analysis – the ontological status of space and time, the contribution of conceptualization to experience, the role of the mind in shaping reality, the relation of appearance to things in themselves and argument for the existence of God. In applying his method of transcendental analysis in the ‘Aesthetic’ and the ‘Analytic’ – the two main sections of his work – Kant is concerned to describe the nature of the human mind in terms of the necessary conditions or structural limits of how objects can be known. He tells us that human knowledge arises from two main areas in the mind – one is ‘sensibility’ the other is ‘understanding’. Sensibility is the power to know objects by means of the sensuous intuition of space and time. Through this, an object is given to us as data while understand is the capacity of the mind to organize the raw data of sense intuition by means of the a priori concepts. 

The capacity (receptivity) for receiving representation through the mode in which we are affected by objects is entitled sensibility. Objects are given to us by means of sensibility and it alone yields intuition; they are thought through the understanding and from the understanding arise concepts (Critique 65). In another famous section of the Critique, he says: 

We have already defined the understanding in various different ways as spontaneity of 

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knowledge (in distinction from the receptivity of sensibility) as the power of thought, as a faculty of concepts or again of judgment. All these definitions, when they are adequately understood, are identical. We may now characterize it as the faculty of rules. This distinguishing mark is more fruitful and approximates more closely to its essential nature. Sensibility gives us forms (of intuitions), but understanding gives us rules (147). By defining the roles of sensibility and understanding, Kant argues that the co-operation of both is required for our knowledge of objects. In his often quoted words: Without sensibility, no object would be given to us, without understanding, no object would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind… This two powers or capacities cannot exchange their functions. The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their union can knowledge arise (93). Strictly speaking, Kant warns us that this level alone does not amount to knowledge. For us, to make ‘objective empirical judgments’, we need to bring our experiences or intuitions under the a priori concepts or categories of the understanding (i.e. unity, totality, substance, reality, causality, etc.) that would allow us to organize particular sensation into unified objects. With this explanation, Kant advances a novel explanation of the possibility of knowledge based on the supposition that things in space and time are dependent on the role or creation of our own minds in shaping reality. This view he calls transcendental idealism. To give a simple illustration: If an individual is to have knowledge of an object such as a table for example, two necessary conditions have to be satisfied-first: he sees the 

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object presented to him as data, as a priori forms of sensible intuition of a table. That is, the individual must have the impression of the spatial and temporal features of apprehending a particular object and second; he must bring that intuition under a concept of substance so as to recognize it as a unity or identity of a table. Having fulfilled the conditions that are necessary for an experiential judgment to be objective, the next question for Kant is to justify why the use of the formal a priori concepts are presupposed by the very possibility of making objective judgment about reality. To undertake this inquiry, Kant in the ‘Analytic of Concepts’, employs the metaphysical and transcendental deductions of the categories. 

The Metaphysical Deduction 

In showing that it is the function of the understanding to make in showing judgments by means of concepts, Kant in the second edition version of the deduction of the categories provides ‘the clue to the discovery of all pure concepts of the understanding’ which he referred to the ‘metaphysical deduction’. In doing this, he lists out or isolate the a priori forms or concepts of the understanding (according to some principles) which are necessary for experience. Kant is convinced that by isolating or identifying certain concepts of the forms of judgment, we can provide a complete list of the categories for organizing the content of our experience. By beginning with an analysis of the basic forms of judgments, Kant claims that a specific concept corresponds to each of them. Every judgment, according to him employs the ‘functions of unity’ meaning that in judgment, one representation is brought into relation with another; in such a way as to yield a unity in prepositional form. Like Aristotle, Kant thinks that there are twelve forms or functions of unity in judgments with each producing different kinds of judgments. Thus: 

In the judgment, ‘all bodies are divisible,’ the concept of the divisible applies to various other concepts, but is here applied in particular to the concept of 

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body and this concept again to the certain appearances that present themselves to us (105). The representation of ‘body’ and ‘divisibility’, for example are unified in the categorical judgment ‘this body is divisible’ where the subject relates to the predicate in a different way from that in which they are unified in the hypothetical judgment if something is a body then it is divisible. Thus, from Aristotle’s classification of the judgment of logic, Kant arrives to the following arrangements of different forms of judgments which he divides into four groups as follows: quantity, quality, relation and modality “each of which contains three moments” (106). 

Table of Judgments 

It is indeed Kant’s claim that the pure concept of the understanding (which he is trying to discover) must not only correspond to the forms of judgments but that they must also have content which give rise, to unity in both judgment and intuition. He argues: 

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(2) Quality 

Affirmative negative Inifinite 

(1) Quantity 

Universal Particular Singular 

(3) Relation 

Categorical Hypothetical Disjunctive 

(4) Modality 

Problematic Assertoric Apodictic 

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What must be first given- with a view to the a priori knowledge of all objects – is the manifold of pure intuition; the second factor involved is the synthesis of this manifold by means of the imagination. But even this does not yield knowledge. The concepts which give unity to this pure synthesis, and which consist solely in the representation of this necessary synthetic unity, furnish the third requisite for the knowledge of an object; and they rest on the understanding (112). 

Hence, 

The same function which gives unity to the various representations in a judgment also gives unity to the mere synthesis of various representations in an intuition; and this unity, in its most general expression; we entitle the pure concept of the understanding. The same understanding through the same operations by which in concepts,…it produced the logical form of a judgment also introduces a transcendental content into its representations, by means of the synthetic unity of the manifold in intuition in general (112). From his allegedly ‘complete’ table of twelve forms of logical judgments, Kant then sets up “the list of all original pure concepts of synthesis that the understanding contains within itself a priori” (113) as follows: 

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Table of Categories 

Kant calls the pure concept of the understanding “categories” to illustrate the fact that they are now seen in relation to intuition (113)

Let us examine how Kant derives the categories from the different kinds of judgment. First with respect to Quantity, if we make a universal judgment as in all ‘As are Bs’ where the subject A and its predicate B represent ‘all dogs are black’, the understanding has created a unity by means of a concept. The possibility of this according to Kant, is by using the category (or the pure concept of the understanding) of unity. Without this category, it would be difficult to articulate a judgment about the many possibilities of A’s treated as single instances. In the particular judgment ‘some A’s are B’s’ no unity exists because it is a question about some A’s and not of treating all A’s as single instance of a unity. According to Kant, the concept of plurality is employed in distinguishing between all A’s and 

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(6) Quality Reality Negation Limitation 

(8) Modality 

(7) Relation 

Inherence and subsistence (substance and accident) Causality (Cause & effect) Community (reciprocity between agent and patient) 

Possibility – impossibility Existence – non-existence Necessary – contingency 

(5) Quantity 

Unity Plurality Totality 

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a single A. Singular judgments can be made as in ‘A is B’. The judgment that is made here is not simply about a particular A but of all that concerns A’s as a whole or unity. The category that corresponds to this judgment is totality. Kant claims that the third category in each class always arises from the combination of the second category with the first. If we add the category of ‘unity’ to that of ‘plurality’, the result is ‘totality’. Interpreting Kant’s line of thought, Frederick Copleston has this to say: 

(The category of) totality is plurality regarded as unity; limitation is reality combined with negation; community is the causality of a substance reciprocally determining and determined by another substance; and necessity is existence given through the possibility of existence (251). 

Concerning Quality, we also make affirmative judgment as when we say ‘A is B’, we affirm that the subject A with its predicate B is a’ reality. In a negative judgment, we say that ‘A is not B’. What this means is that the subject A with its predicate B is not a reality: while in an infinite judgment, we make a claim of the form ‘A has a limit in B’; in other words, the subject does not possess all of the characteristics of B. The categories corresponding to affirmative, negative and infinite judgments are therefore reality, negation and limitation. Here too, if we combine ‘reality’ and ‘negation’, we have ‘limitation’. 

Similarly, under Relation, we have a correspondence to the form of ‘categorical’ judgment ‘A is B’, there is the category of substance where ‘A’ stands for the thing (which subsists) and in which ‘B’ inheres (its properties). For example; if we say ‘this board is black’ Here, a distinction is made between the thing ‘the substance’ and its property ‘black’. Thus, it is by means of the concept of ‘substance and accident’, the category that is reflected in the categorical judgment that we are able to identify the 

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empirically given as things and as properties of things. Corresponding to the logical forms of ‘hypothetical’ judgment (if ‘A, then B’, where A and B are two different kinds of judgment), there is according to Kant the category of causality (if one event, then another). Kant cites the following example. “If there is a prefect justice, the obstinately wicked are punished” (109). This judgment does not imply that either of the two included judgments namely (i) ‘there is a perfect justice’ or (ii) ‘the obstinately wicked are punished’ is true. What is being said is that the truth of one must be seen in relation to the other. The ‘hypothetical’ judgment cannot be made except by means of the concept of causality’ or (dependence). Kant saw the importance of this category and claims that we cannot imagine a world without causality. For him, such a world is not possible. If there is, there would be no consistency, no predictability, we would not be able to think or understand any temporal succession, no basis for expectation and life would be a night- mare of chaos and anxiety. The disjunctive judgment (in the exclusive sense) claims that either one situation is true and the other false. ‘Either A is true or B is false’ or ‘B is true and A is false’. A and B can be either true or false. Both cannot be true or false at the same time. The truth and falsity of A and B depend on the mutual relation of the propositions in question. The disjunctive judgment therefore expresses the category that Kant refers to as ‘community’. As is the case with the third category under quantity (totality) and quality (limitation), the category of community (seen as an interaction between things) arises out of the combination of ‘substance’ and ‘causality’. Under Modality, we have problematic, assertoric and apodictic judgments. Kant claims that problematic judgments depend on the existence of the category of possibility. With assertoric judgments, we can conceive not only the possibility of something but also of its existence. Finally, without the category of necessity, we cannot according to Kant make apodictic judgments. Here, we can conceive the existence of things by necessity. Thus, the category of necessity is achieved by the realization of the fact that not only is something possible but also that its existence is of necessity. According to Kant: 

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That everything, which happens, is hypothetically necessary is a principle which subordinates alteration in the world to a law, that is, to a rule of necessary existence without which there would be nothing that could be entitled nature (248). 

Stephen Korner summarizes a list of Kant’s categories which he derives from the different kinds of judgments as follows: 

(1) “Categories of quantity: to universal judgments corresponds the category of unity: to particular judgments that of plurality; to singular judgments that of totality”. (2) “Categories of quality: to affirmative judgments corresponds the category of reality; to negative judgments that of negation: to limitative judgments that of limitation. (3) “Categories of Relation: to categorical judgments corresponds the category of substance and accident: to hypothetical judgments that of causality and dependence, to disjunctive judgment that of community or interaction. (4) Categories of modality: to problematic judgments corresponds the category of possibility – impossibility, to assertoric judgment that of existence and non-existence; to apodictic judgments that of necessity- contingency” (56). 

From the above analyses, Kant was convinced that he had ‘metaphysically deduced from each of the logical different kinds of judgment a corresponding concept which has a relation to objects given in 

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intuition. It is important to emphasize however, that his derivation of the categories from the table of judgments is not immune to criticisms. The employment of a certain form of judgment does not entail the application of the corresponding category. The concept of causality for example, can be applied without a hypothetical judgment being made. Let us consider the following: ‘A lighted candle is the cause of heat.’ In this example, there is a weakness in the basic correspondence of the category with the form of judgment Apart from this shortcoming, it is difficult to see how Kant has demonstrated the uniqueness of the correspondence that he is claiming. It would appear that instead of his category of causality, Hume’s concept of constant conjunction could do the same thing of organizing intuition such that hypothetical judgments can be made. Kant does not therefore rule out the possibility that someone who is dissatisfied with his table of categories could not produce a different sets of categories (with equally good claim) to show some correspondences between judgments and concepts. Such possibility tends to undermine the uniqueness of Kant’s argument. 

The Transcendental Deduction 

Having shown in the metaphysical deduction how the forms of judgment provide ‘a clue to the discovery of the pure concepts of the understanding’, Kant’s next task in the transcendental deduction is to justify the application of the categories of the understanding by showing that they are a priori conditions of the possibility of experience. He writes: Jurists, when speaking of rights and claims, distinguish in a legal action the question of right (quid juris) from the question of fact (quid facti); and they demand that both be proved. Proof of the former, which has to state the right or the legal claim, they entitle the deduction. Many empirical concepts are employed without question from anyone. Since experience is always available for the proof of their objective 

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reality, we believe ourselves, even without a deduction, to be justified in appropriating to them a meaning, an ascribed significance. But there are also usurpatory concepts, such as fortune, fate, which, though allowed to circulate by almost universal indulgence, are yet from time to time challenged by the question: quid juris. This demand for deduction involves us in considerable perplexity, no clear legal title, sufficient to justify their employment, being obtainable either from experience or from reason. Now among the manifold concepts which form the highly complicated web of human knowledge, there are some which are marked out for pure a priori employment.. .and their right to be so employed always demands a deduction. For since empirical proofs do not suffice to justify this kind of employment, we are faced by the problem how these concepts can relate to objects which they do not obtain from any experience. The explanation of the manner in which concepts can thus relate a priori to objects I entitle their transcendental deduction; and from it I distinguish empirical deduction, which shows the manner in which a concept is acquired through experience and through reflection on experience, and which therefore concerns, not its legitimacy, but only its de facto mode of origination. (120-121). 

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Kant sees the problem to be addressed here as “how subjective conditions of thoughts can have objective validity” (124). What he is after is the justification of the conceptual condition that makes it “possible to know anything as an object” (126). In his view, a priori concepts are justified if we can satisfy the transcendental condition that only through them can an object be thought. “This will be a sufficient deduction of them and will justify their objective validity” (130). Kant’s argument for this justification runs as follow: 

  1. The manifold of intuition or perception belongs to one 

consciousness. 

  1. If they are subject to the transcendental unity of consciousness, this implies that it is possible for me to think of my perceiving and thinking as ‘mine’. 

iii. This means that the manifold of intuition can be synthesized by the understanding. Thus, to be subject to the unity of consciousness, intuitions must be united in one consciousness by the synthesis of the understanding. 

  1. Such synthesis is rule-governed by the logical forms of 

judgments or a priori categories. 

  1. Therefore, for experience to be possible, the manifold of intuitions must be subject to the categories. In other words, if the categories were not objectively valid, experience would be impossible. 

Problems from Kant’s a priori Concept Use 

By way of raising some general problems on the legitimacy of Kant’s use of any a priori concept, let us consider the following two sorts of questions: 

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(1) How can we tell whether an a priori concept applies to object? That is, what are the general criteria for determining which particular a priori concepts apply to objects? 

(2) Which particular a priori concepts apply to objects? 

In claiming that a priori concept use always brings with it a quid juris, Kant seems to be suggesting that unless we have an answer to (1), we have no reasonable or legitimate answer to (2). Indeed, he seems to argue that it is precisely because our attempt to answer (1) is supposed to legitimize our answer to (2) and it counts as a quid juris-type endeavor. That is, Kant seems to endorse the following conditional namely that (3) if we do not have an answer to (1), we have no reasonable answer to (2). Here, our response to Kant’s problem concerns the fact that the following conditional also seems true (4) if we do not have an answer to (2), we have no reasonable answer to (1). But why is that so?. Now suppose we do not have a correct answer to (2), how can we be sure that the criteria we articulate in answering (1) are correct?. For all we know is that in answering (1), we may be giving criteria for the application of a priori concepts which rule out a priori concepts that do not apply to objects and rule that do not apply. Hence, it looks like an answer to (2) is needed to get an answer to (1) and if Kant is right, then vice versa. Yet, if (3) and (4) are both true, we have no reasonable answer either to question (1) or question (2), for we are caught in a vicious circularity. Readers of Roderick Chisholm will recognize that the problem we have just raised for Kant is similar to an epistemological problem Chisholm first pointed to in his 1973 Aquinas Lecture titled ‘the Problem of the Criterion’ which boils down to its essentials are: (5) What are the general criteria for determining the particular beliefs to which the concept of knowledge applies? (6) To which particulars belief does the concept of knowledge apply? According to Chisholm, the proper way to proceed in epistemology is to start with those particular beliefs that we commonly assume, on reflection, to instances of knowledge (or of justified belief, evident belief, 

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warranted belief, etc.) and then goes on to formulate our theories as to what all such instances have, or indeed must have, in common. The theories are just proposals as to what the general criteria for knowledge are. The data we use both for constructing and testing the criteria are, all along, our considered commonsense convictions as to the particular beliefs that do, and do not, count as know1edge. As Chisholm puts it: 

In order to formulate, or make explicit, our rules of evidence, we will do well to proceed as we do in logic, when formulating the rules of inference, or in moral philosophy, when formulating rules of action. We suppose that we have at our disposal certain instances which the rules should countenance or permit and other instances which the rules should reject or forbid; and we suppose that by investigating these instances, we can formulate criteria which any instance must satisfy if it is to be accepted or permitted, as well as criteria which any instance must satisfy if it is to be rejected or forbidden (17). 

Let us consider the following two conditionals namely (7) if we do not have an answer to (5), we have no reasonable answer to (6) Again (8) if we do not have an answer to (6), we have no reasonable answer to (5). The problem in effect, is that each of these conditionals seems true on its face value. Without an adequate grip on the particular beliefs that count as instances of knowledge we have, it would seem, no way of telling whether the general criteria of knowledge that we formulate are correct. There would be no way of telling whether the criteria rule in what we do in fact know and rule out what we do not in fact know. And without an adequate grip on the correct criteria of knowledge, it looks as though our assumptions about the particular beliefs 

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that count as instances of knowledge are mere, and perhaps erroneous, dogma. Yet if (7) and (8) are both true, we can have no reasonable answer either to (5) or (6). Again, we seem to be caught in vicious circularity. (Chisholm 109 ff). The similarity between ‘the problem of the criterion’ raised by Chisholm and the problem we have raised for Kant is apparent. Both answer from the assumption that general criteria are needed for determining the property of particular instances, together with the fact that a grasp of the property of particular instances seems needed to arrive at the general criteria. In Chisholm’s problem, the general criteria are criteria for the correct application of the concept of knowledge to particular beliefs; in Kant’s problem, the general criteria are criteria for the correct application of particular a priori concepts. 

Again, if we consider principle (A) which states that if we do not have an answer to the question of what the general criteria are for determining which particular concepts of a given type apply to objects, we have no reasonable answer to the question of which particular concepts of that type apply to objects. But suppose that instead of applying (A) to a priori concepts, we apply it to empirical ones. The result will be to distinguish between (5) what are the general criteria for determining which particular empirical concepts apply to objects? and (6) which particular empirical concepts apply to objects? By the application of (A), we get the conclusion that if we do not have an answer to (5), we have no reasonable answer to (6). Here too, the same sort of problem encountered above also arises. It seems that if we do not have an answer to (6), we have no reasonable answer to (5). For without a correct answer to (6), one might, in answering (5), be specifying criteria for the application of empirical concepts which rule out empirical concepts that do in fact apply to objects and rule in empirical concepts that do not apply. The problem lies in (A) if we accept this principle, we are forced to skepticism about concept use in general. However, Kant seems to agree that if is wrong to apply (A) in the case of (5) and (6). For he does not see the attempt to answer (5) as a quid juris type project, one which provides our empirical concept use our answer 

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to (6) – with legitimacy. “We believe ourselves” he says “even without a deduction to be justified in appropriating to (empirical concept) a meaning, an ascribed significance” (120). Our puzzles in this argument is why Kant seems to think that (A) applies in the case of (1) and (2). It may also be that what Kant is working with is not (A) but another principle like (B) which states that in cases where there are some doubts about whether concepts of a given type apply to objects, if we do not have an answer to the question of what the general criteria are for determining which particular concept of that type apply to objects, we have no reasonable answer to the question of which particular concept of that type apply to objects. By working with (B), then, Kant might say we must have a correct answer to (1) in order to get a correct answer to (2) because some philosophers like Hume are skeptical as to whether a priori concepts apply to objects. In this sense, we do not need to have a correct answer to (5) in order to get a correct answer to (6) because there is no doubt as to whether empirical concepts apply to objects. 

It would be open to Kant to avoid the problem we raised for his position on (1) and (2) along the lines suggested in the ‘transcendental deduction’. He can get a correct answer to (1) without having a correct answer to (2) by appeal to his answer to (6). The answer to (1) is arrived at by pointing out that the use of certain a priori concepts is necessary for the use of those empirical concepts singled out in the answer to (6). Accordingly, there is no problem analogous to Chisholm’s problem of the criterion that arises for Kant’s position on (1) and (2), since it is not true that in order to get a correct answer to (1), he must have a correct answer to (2). Nor does such a problem arise for his position on (5) and (6), for (B) does not force him to the position that in order to have a correct answer to (6), he must have a correct answer to (5). The problem with this way out for Kant is that (B) does force him to the position that he must have a correct answer to (5) in order to get a correct answer to (6). This is simply because, as a matter of fact, it is also possible to doubt whether empirical concepts apply to objects, even though Kant pays no attention to it. There are, after all skeptics who raise doubts about the existence of the external world; and 

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whether any of our empirical concepts apply to objects, that is, if our use of any such concepts in the final analysis is legitimate. To make matters more concrete here, let us consider examples of concepts Kant would take to be empirical on the one hand and a priori on the other. We will assume that he would count the following two as empirical: hand and unicorn while cause and fate he sees as a priori. As we have already pointed out, Kant would suggest that in order to get a correct answer to the question of whether cause and/or fate apply to objects, we must specify correct general criteria for determining which particular a priori concepts apply to objects, because it is possible to doubt whether a priori concepts in general apply to objects. The suggestion is that Kant can get his correct specification of these criteria by pointing out that a priori concepts whose use is necessary for the use of empirical concepts that apply to objects must also apply to objects. (The criteria, or rather criterion, would be something like this: A priori concept (C) applies to objects just in case the application of (C) is necessary for the use of empirical concepts that apply to objects). Given the above, we can say that Kant has no need of answering the question of what the general criteria are for determining which particular empirical concepts apply to objects in order to have a correct answer to the question of which particular empirical concepts – say, hand and/or unicorn, apply to objects. This is because there is no doubt about which of these concepts apply. It is also possible to doubt as the skeptics would that for all we know, that hand applies to objects as it is that unicorn does. But is Kant surely right to ignore such doubts? The answer, we suggest is roughly that despite the possibility of doubt, our common assumptions assure us that particular empirical objects like hand and unicorn do apply. This however, suggests that the real principle at work in Kant’s position on (5) and (6) is something like this: (C) in cases where there are some doubt as to whether concepts of a given type apply to objects, if we do not have an answer to the question of what the general criteria are for determining which particular concepts of that type apply to objects, we have no reasonable answer to the question of which particular concepts of that type apply to objects. 

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Applying (C) to the case of empirical concept use – the case of (5) and (6) – we do not get the result that if we have no answer to (5), we have no reasonable answer to (6) for there is no doubt as to empirical concepts like hand as opposed to empirical concepts like unicorn, apply to objects, despite the objections of skeptics who doubt our knowledge of the external world. But again, the real issue is: applying (C) to the case of a priori concept use – the case of (1) and (2) – does not yield the result that we need to have an answer to (1) in order to have a correct answer to (2) either. This is because there is no doubt as to whether, for example a priori concepts like cause as opposed to the one like fate in fact applies. 

Summary and Conclusion 

On a final note, our excursion into Kant’s philosophy has shown how he deduced or justified some pure concepts or a priori categories of the understanding employed in all judgments which supply the conceptual conditions of human knowledge. The deduction of the categories as we have seen is an argument which aims at the justification of the claims for their necessity. It has both the metaphysical and transcendental aspects. The setting out by means of a systematic discovery of what the categories are is the task of the ‘metaphysical deduction’, while in the ‘transcendental deduction, Kant attempted to validate the need for such categories as necessary conditions of experience. This means that the metaphysical deduction is concerned with determining the list of the categories while the transcendental deduction with establishing their objective validity. From the classification of traditional logical forms i.e. universal, particular or singular (Quantity), affirmative, negative or infinite (Quality), categorical, hypothetical or disjunctive (Relation) and problematic, assertoric and apodictic (Modality), Kant derived his table of categories. As a further step in the Analytic, we saw how he justified the employment of the categories as a priori conditions of the possibility of experience in giving us objective knowledge. In this ‘transcendental proof’, Kant argued that experience belonged to one unity of consciousness such that for this unity to be 

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possible, experience requires the capacity to make judgments that are rule governed by the categories. Therefore, his conclusion was that the necessity of experience to conform to the categories was justifiable. From the general analyses of Chisholm’s particularist response to the problem of the criterion that we raised for Kant, it is not to say that his efforts in the transcendental deduction are worthless, it is only to say that they are best construed in a manner quite different from the way in which he himself may have intended them – not as providing our everyday or scientific concept employment with legitimacy that they would have otherwise be without, but rather as a further elucidation and recognition of their legitimacy. It is such recognition that James Van Cleve had in mind when he said: 

In the course of the Deduction, he (Kant) also argues for another conclusion that has been of much interest to contemporary philosophers namely, that the validity of the categories enables our representations to be parlayed into knowledge of objects distinct from ourselves. This additional thesis has led many to hope that the Transcendental Deduction may furnish us with (or at least make an important contribution toward) a refutation of skepticism about the external world (73). 

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Works Cited Bird, Graham “Critical Review on Kant” The Philosophical Quarterly

Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1996, pp. 37-81. Chisholm, Roderick, M. The Foundation of Knowing, Sussex: Harvester Press, 

  1. Connor, D.J. O. (ed.). A Critical History of Western Philosophy, New-York: The 

Free Press, 1964. Copleston, S.J. Frederick A History of Philosophy Vol.1, London: Burns & 

Oates, 1960. Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason Translated by Norman Kemp Smith 

London: Macmillan, 1929. _______ Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics ed. by L.W. Beck New-York: 

The Liberal Arts Press, 1950. Korner, Stephen Kant. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1979. McDowell, John “Criteria, Defeasibility and Knowledge” Proceedings of the 

British Academy Vol. LXVIII, 1982, pp 455 – 479. Van Cleve, James. Problems from Kant New York: Oxford University Press, 

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