McDowell's Kantianism

Theoria 70 (2-3):250-265 (2004)
Abstract
In recent work, John McDowell has urged that we resurrect the Kantian thesis that concepts without intuitions are empty. I distinguish two forms of the thesis: a strong form that applies to all concepts and a weak form that is limited to empirical concepts. Because McDowell rejects Kant’s philosophy of mathematics, he can accept only the weaker form of the thesis. But this position is unstable. The reasoning behind McDowell’s insistence that empirical concepts can have content only if they are actualizable in passive experience makes it mysterious how the concepts of pure mathematics can have content. In fact, historically, it was anxiety about the possibility of mathematical content, and not worries about the “Myth of the Given,” that spurred the retreat from Kantian views of empirical content. McDowell owes us some more therapy on this score.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1755-2567.2004.tb00994.x
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