Paper Topics

Here are some possible topics for papers. You are welcome to write on something else (or on some modified topic related to one of the options below), but please discuss this with me first. The first draft of the paper is due Monday, November 15th. The final draft is due Monday, December 13th.


  • Explain Kant’s conceptions of the discursive and intuitive intellect. How are they related to one another? How are they different? In what sense might this distinction beg the question against the possibility of metaphysics?
  • Explain the role of the Metaphysical Deduction in Kant’s overall argument in the Critique of Pure Reason. In what sense might the MD make traditional metaphysics impossible?
  • Kant rejects Spinoza’s identification of God with nature. What is the basis of Kant’s rejection? How might the Spinozist reply? Do any of Kant’s commitments push him towards accepting Spinoza’s view?


  • Explain Reinhold’s principle of consciousness. Why does Reinhold think it necessary for philosophy? What objections are raised against it by Schulze or Fichte? Can Reinhold reply?


  • Fichte criticizes Reinhold for putting a fact rather than an act at the basis of his philosophical system. How should we understand this criticism? Explain the sense in which Fichte puts an act at the basis of philosophy.
  • Fichte distinguishes two philosophical systems—idealism and dogmatism. Explain this division. How does Fichte think we are to choose between them? Is there a rational basis for doing so? In what sense is idealism the expression of a “higher” form of human development?
  • In the New Presentation writings Fichte contends that intellectual intuition is fundamental to the Wissenschaftslehre. What is intellectual intuition for Fichte? Is it the same notion as Kant’s? Is there some other view in Kant that is a better fit for Fichte’s conception of intellectual intuition?


  • What is “construction” and why does Schelling think it necessary for philosophy?
  • Explain the role of identity in Schelling’s philosophy of identity


  • Explain the role skepticism plays in Hegel’s philosophical project. In what sense is or isn’t Hegel a “critical” philosopher?
  • What is Hegel’s “dialectical” method for doing metaphysics?
  • How does Hegel’s derivation of the categories differ from Kant’s? Is one preferable to the other?