Wilfrid Sellars: Naturalism with a Normative Turn

Overview

The work of the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars continues to have a significant impact on the contemporary philosophical scene. His writings have influenced major thinkers such as Rorty, McDowell, Brandom, and Dennett, and many of Sellars basic conceptions, such as the logical space of reasons, the myth of the given, and the manifest and scientific images, have become standard philosophical terms. Often, however, recent uses of these terms do not reflect the richness or the true sense of Sellars original ...

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Wilfrid Sellars: Naturalism with a Normative Turn

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Overview

The work of the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars continues to have a significant impact on the contemporary philosophical scene. His writings have influenced major thinkers such as Rorty, McDowell, Brandom, and Dennett, and many of Sellars basic conceptions, such as the logical space of reasons, the myth of the given, and the manifest and scientific images, have become standard philosophical terms. Often, however, recent uses of these terms do not reflect the richness or the true sense of Sellars original ideas. This book gets to the heart of Sellars philosophy and provides students with a comprehensive critical introduction to his lifes work.

The book is structured around what Sellars himself regarded as the philosophers overarching task: to achieve a coherent vision of reality that will finally overcome the continuing clashes between the world as common sense takes it to be and the world as science reveals it to be. It provides a clear analysis of Sellars groundbreaking philosophy of mind, his novel theory of consciousness, his defense of scientific realism, and his thoroughgoing naturalism with a normative turn. Providing a lively examination of Sellars work through the central problem of what it means to be a human being in a scientific world, this book will be a valuable resource for all students of philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I know that a review without any critical comments looks like anapology rather than a real review ... and to my embarrassment,there is little I can say by way of criticism about James O'Shea'sbook. The depth and colorfulness of the depiction of Sellars'philosophy as presented by O'Shea [is] remarkable."
Erkenntnis

"Not only does this book present a comprehensive picture ofSellars’s philosophical system in its breadth, its depth andsubtlety, it does so with a freshness and lucidity that I have notseen before in commentaries on Sellars, including my own."
Tom Vinci, Notre Dame PhilosophicalReviews

"A pellucid introduction to the systematic thought of one of thedeepest, most important, and least understood of twentieth-centuryphilosophers."
Robert Brandom, University of Pittsburgh

"Jim O'Shea's compact book is an extremely valuable addition tothe burgeoning literature on the philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars,presenting the essential elements of his dialectically intricatework in a relatively brief and eminently readable form. The bookoffers clear and accessible accounts of many of Sellars' mostchallenging ideas, embedded in a lucid expository structure thatcaptures and effectively conveys the deeply systematic character ofhis philosophical vision. O'Shea insightfully traces theimplications of Sellars' "naturalism with a normative turn" for theinnovative conceptions of meaning, knowledge, representation, andtruth in terms of which he undertook to reconcile our "manifestimage" of ourselves as unitary subjects of sensation, thought, andaction with the continually-developing "scientific image" of aworld composed only of imperceptible impersonal entities andforces."
Jay F. Rosenberg, University of North Carolina

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745630038
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Series: Key Contemporary Thinkers Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

James O'Shea, Lecturer in Philosophy, University College, Dublin

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgements xii

Introduction 1

1 The Philosophical Quest and the Clash of the Images10

The quest for a stereoscopic fusion of the manifest andscientific images 10

The clash of the images and the status of the sensible qualities14

Sensing, thinking, and willing: persons as complex physicalsystems? 17

2 Scientific Realism and the Scientific Image 23

Empiricist approaches to the interpretation of scientifictheories 24

Sellars’ critique of empiricism and his defense ofscientific realism 32

The ontological primacy of the scientific image 41

3 Meaning and Abstract Entities 48

Approaching thought through language: is meaning a relation?49

Sellars’ alternative functional role conception of meaning55

The problem of abstract entities: introducing Sellars’nominalism 63

Abstract entities: problems and prospects for the metalinguisticaccount 69

4 Thought, Language, and the Myth of Genius Jones 77

Meaning and pattern-governed linguistic behavior 77

Bedrock uniformity and rule-following normativity in the spaceof meanings 83

Our Rylean ancestors and genius Jones’s theory of innerthoughts 86

Privileged access and other issues in Sellers’ account ofthinking 97

5 Knowledge, Immediate Experience, and the Myth of the Given106

The idea of the given and the case of sense-datum theories107

Toward Sellers’ account of perception and appearance118

Epistemic principles and the holistic structure of our knowledge125

Genius Jones, Act Two: the intrinsic character of our sensoryexperiences 136

6 Truth, Picturing, and Ultimate Ontology 143

Truth as semantic assertibility and truth as correspondence144

Picturing, linguistic representation, and reference 147

Truth, conceptual change, and the ideal scientific image 158

The ontology of sensory consciousness and absolute processes163

7 A Synoptic Vision: Sellers’ Naturalism with aNormative Turn 176

The structure of Sellers’ normative ‘Copernicanrevolution’ 176

Intentions, volitions, and the moral point of view 178

Persons in the synoptic vision 185

Notes 191

Bibliography 228

Index 243

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