Kant, McDowell, and the “Identity of Identity and Nonidentity”

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The problem of the “identity of identity and nonidentity” (IINI), which haunted German idealism, has two closely related aspects. The first, epistemological aspect concerns the possibility of knowledge of an objective world. The second, transcendental aspect, concerns the question of how thoughts can be directed towards the world. Reconstructing McDowell’s Kantian account of intentionality as a purported resolution of the transcendental aspect of IINI, I pose the following dilemma for McDowell’s account: Either (1) part ways with Kant’s purported resolution of IINI at a crucial point, thereby being driven towards an approach that McDowell firmly opposes, indeed cannot accept, or (2) follow Kant to the letter, and then face, head-on, a deep problem that Kant’s purported resolution of IINI faces. Parting ways, as I show, with Kant’s purported resolution of IINI, McDowell finds himself impaled upon the first horn of this dilemma. Were he, however, to respond by following Kant to the letter, McDowell would find himself impaled upon the second horn. Thus, I conclude, McDowell’s account of intentionality fails.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-362
Number of pages16
JournalActa Analytica
Issue number4
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2015


  • Discursivity
  • Intentionality
  • Kant
  • McDowell
  • Rationality
  • Spontaneity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Kant, McDowell, and the “Identity of Identity and Nonidentity”'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this