The Pittsburgh Kantians: Brandom, Conant, Haugeland, and McDowell on Kant

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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  • 1 Computer Science Department, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, New York, USA
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Over the last thirty years, a group of philosophers associated with the University of Pittsburgh—Robert Brandom, James Conant, John Haugeland, and John McDowell—have developed a novel reading of Kant. Their interest turns on Kant’s problem of objective purport: how can my thoughts be about the world? This paper summarizes the shared reading of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction by these four philosophers and how it solves the problem of objective purport. But I also show these philosophers radically diverge in how they view Kant’s relevance for contemporary philosophy. I highlight an important distinction between those that hold a quietist response to Kant, evident in Conant and McDowell, and those that hold a constructive response, evident in Brandom and Haugeland. The upshot is that the Pittsburgh Kantians have a distinctive approach to Kant, but also radically different responses to his problem of objective purport.

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