An article on the epistemological foundations of art history. Michael Baxandall's Inferential Criticism is an alternative to both empiricism, which underestimates the interpretive role played by the subject in human experience, and the psychosemiotic model derived from Althusser, Lacan and Saussure, which fails to accord with the empirical evidence. The present article examines the epistemological undercurrents of Baxandall's method in order to reveal how Inferential Criticism offers an alternative, when examined for its philosophical merits, to the main orientations in art history. The goal of Inferential Criticism is to explain problematic artifacts, particularly works of art, by inductively reconstructing the "cognitive style" of the relevant period and the "patterns of intention" of the artists working during the period. Though this sounds straightforward, its epistemological foundation is complex. The post-Kantian empiricism presupposed by Baxandall's method incorporates Kant's view of the subject as a projector of categories, a modified version of the German romantic contention that categorical perspectives are historically conditioned, a Freudian notion of biologically conditioned subjectivity, and an empiricist preference for inductive generalization about contingent states of affairs. The combination of axioms taken from these diverse sources yields a powerful explanatory instrument that compares favorably with the other theoretical orientations available in the field.