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Summary

Wilfrid Stalker Sellars (1912-1989) was a profound philosopher who left an indelible mark on mid-to-late 20th century Anglo-American philosophy. His stated goal was "to formulate a scientifically oriented, naturalistic realism which would ‘save the appearances,’" and towards this end he wrote a number of essays that covered topics in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and ethics, as well as in the history of philosophy. Sellars was broadly educated in philosophy, drawing influences from ancient philosophy, German Idealism, logical positivism, critical realism, and ordinary language philosophy. His work was imbued with a deep respect for philosophy’s history. He is most famous for his attack on the "myth of the given" and his development of a non-foundationalistic epistemology, for his distinction between the "manifest image" and the "scientific image" of humanity in the world, for his proposal that psychological concepts are like theoretical concepts, and for his scientific realism. Sellars can claim the first explicit formulation of a functionalist treatment of intentional states, an early recognition of the "hard problem" of sensory consciousness, and a thoroughgoing nominalism, as well as rich interpretations of historical figures in philosophy.

Key works

Sellars’s best-known essay is [Sellars 1956 "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind."], considered a classic of 20th century philosophy.  Other landmark essays include [Sellars 1963 "Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man"], [Sellars 1954 "Some Reflections on Language Games"], [Sellars 1963 "Abstract Entities"],  [Sellars 1974 "Meaning as Functional Classification"], [Sellars 1957 "Counterfactuals, Dispositions, and the Causal Modalities"],  [Sellars 1981 "Foundations of a Metaphysics of Pure Process"], [Sellars 1969 "Language as Thought and as Communication"], [Sellars 1981"Mental Events"], [Sellars 1982 "Sensa or Sensings"], [Sellars 1980 "On Reasoning about Values"], and his book [Sellars 1968 "Science and Metaphysics"]

Introductions Richard J. Bernstein "Sellars' Vision of Man-in-the-Universe," Bernstein 1966 Bernstein 1966 deVries 2011  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Wilfrid Sellars" deVries & Triplett 2000 deVries&Triplett, Knowledge, Mind and the Given: Reading Wilfrid Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" deVries 2005  deVries, Wilfrid Sellars O'Shea 2007  O'Shea, Wilfrid Sellars:  Naturalism with a Normative Turn Delaney et al 1977 Delaney, Loux, et al., The Synoptic Vision
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  1. Robert Ackermann (1973). Sellars and the Scientific Image. Noûs 7 (2):138-151.
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  2. Russell L. Ackoff (1950). Book Review:Philosophy for the Future R. W. Sellars, V. J. McGill, M. Farber. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 17 (3):278-.
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  3. Russell L. Ackoff (1949). Book Review:Readings in Philosophical Analysis Herbert Feigl, Wilfrid Sellars. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 16 (3):266-.
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  4. E. M. Adams (1971). The Scientific and the Humanistic Images of Man-in-the-World. Man and World 4 (2):174-192.
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  5. Mortimer J. Adler (1971). The Scientific and the Humanistic Images of Man-in-the-World. Man and World 4:174-192.
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  6. Scott F. Aikin (2008). In the Space of Reasons: Selected Essays of Wilfrid Sellars (Review). Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 44 (2):pp. 363-367.
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  7. Lilli K. Alanen (1992). Thought-Talk: Descartes and Sellars on Intentionality. American Philosophical Quarterly 29 (1):19-34.
  8. Edwin B. Allaire (1971). Wilfred Sellars. Science and Metaphysics. Metaphilosophy 2 (4):352–358.
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  9. William P. Alston (2002). Sellars and the "Myth of the Given". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (1):69-86.
    Sellars is well known for his critique of the “myth of the given” in his “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”. That text does not make it unambiguous just how he understands the “myth”. Here I take it that whatever else may be involved, his critique is incompatible with the view that there is a nonconceptual mode of “presentation” or “givenness” of particulars that is the heart of sense perception and what is most distinctive of perception as a type of (...)
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  10. William P. Alston (1983). What's Wrong with Immediate Knowledge? Synthese 55 (April):73-96.
    Immediate knowledge is here construed as true belief that does not owe its status as knowledge to support by other knowledge (or justified belief) of the same subject. The bulk of the paper is devoted to a criticism of attempts to show the impossibility of immediate knowledge. I concentrate on attempts by Wilfrid Sellars and Laurence Bonjour to show that putative immediate knowledge really depends on higher-level knowledge or justified belief about the status of the beliefs involved in the putative (...)
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  11. Pedro Amaral, Humanities and the Idea of a Person in the 22nd Century: Kant, Descartes, Sellars.
    Science starts out with the idea of a person as billions of neurons housed in a body that is a cloud of particles. Common sense starts out with the idea of a person having capacities belonging to a single individual. The common sense person does not have parts. Our objectifying science slowly takes over the person as it tends toward physical materialism. Where will it end? What is being gradually pushed out of the world? If science had already taken over, (...)
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  12. Pedro Amaral & Jeffrey Sicha (1991). The Philosophical Works of Wilfrid Sellars. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 22 (1):187-193.
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  13. Kenneth Christian Anderson (1973). Wilfrid Sellars and the Theory of the Given. Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
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  14. Richard E. Aquila (1976). Intentionality: A Study Of Mental Acts. Penn St University Press.
  15. Richard E. Aquila (1975). Perceptions and Perceptual Judgments. Philosophical Studies 28 (July):17-31.
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  16. Bruce Aune (1992). Johanna Seibt, Properties as Processes: A Synoptic Study of Wilfrid Sellars' Nominalism Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 12 (1):58-60.
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  17. Bruce Aune (1990). Sellars's Two Images of the World. Journal of Philosophy 87 (10):537-545.
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  18. Bruce Aune (1988). Action and Ontology. Philosophical Studies 54 (2):195 - 213.
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  19. Bruce Aune (1978). Sellars on Practical Inference. In Joseph Pitt (ed.), The Philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars: Queries and Extensions. D. Reidel. 19--24.
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  20. Bruce Aune (1970). Review of Sellars' Science and Metaphysics. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 67:251-256.
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  21. Bruce Aune (1967). Does Knowledge Have an Indubitable Foundation? In Knowledge, Mind and Nature. Random House.
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  22. R. J. B. (1968). Philosophical Perspectives. Review of Metaphysics 21 (3):561-561.
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  23. John A. Bailey (1971). Science and Metaphysics. By Wilfrid Sellars. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; Don Mills: General Publishing. 1969. Pp. X, 246, $6.30. [REVIEW] Dialogue 10 (04):793-796.
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  24. Aude Bandini (2011). Meaning and the Emergence of Normativity. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (3):415-431.
    Linguistic meaning has an essential normative dimension that prima facie cannot be reduced to descriptive, non-normative, terms. Taking this point for granted, this paper however aims at proposing a naturalist view of semantics - inspired by Wilfrid Sellars' original works - focused on the way the constitutive normative aspects of meaning might be properly explained and accounted for, rather than eliminated.
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  25. Winston H. F. Barnes (1950). Philosophy for the Future. The Quest of Modern Materialism. Edited by Roy Wood Sellars, V. J. McGill and Marvin Farber. (New York: The Macmillan Company. 1949. Pp. Xii + 657. Price $7.50.). [REVIEW] Philosophy 25 (95):355-.
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  26. A. H. Basson (1957). Review: Wilfrid Sellars, Philosophical Studies. [REVIEW] Journal of Symbolic Logic 22 (1):88-89.
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  27. K. L. Becker (1968). The Essential Pascal. Ed. Robert W. Gleason, S.J. Modern Schoolman 46 (1):79-79.
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  28. Dave Beisecker, Normative Functionalism and its Pragmatist Roots. Normative Funcitonalism and the Pittsburgh School.
    I shall characterize normative functionalism and contrast it with its causal counterpart. After tracing both stripes of functionalism to the work of the classical American pragmatists, I then argue that they are not exclusive alternatives. Instead, both might be required for an appropriately illuminating account of human rational activity.
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  29. Jocelyn Benoist (2004). « Le mythe du donné » et les avatars du kantisme analytique. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 4 (4):511-529.
  30. Carlton W. Berenda (1947). Comments Upon Roy Sellars' Views on Relativity. Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):15-18.
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  31. Richard J. Bernstein (1966). Sellars' Vision of Man-in-the-Universe, II. Review of Metaphysics 20 (2):290 - 316.
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  32. Richard J. Bernstein (1966). Sellars' Vision of Man-in-the-Universe, I. Review of Metaphysics 20 (1):113 - 143.
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  33. Fernando Birman (2010). Pragmatic Concerns and Images of the World. Philosophia 38 (4):715-731.
    I defend a pragmatist reinterpretation of Sellars’s famous manifest-scientific distinction. I claim that in order to do justice to this important distinction we must first recognize, despite what philosophers—including, arguably, Sellars—often make of it, that the distinction does not draw an epistemological or metaphysical boundary between different kinds of objects and events, but a pragmatic boundary between different ways in which we interact with objects and events. Put differently, I argue that the manifest-scientific distinction, in my view, can be best (...)
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  34. John D. Bishop (1980). The Analogy Theory of Thinking. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 58 (September):222-238.
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  35. Daniel Bonevac (2002). Sellars Vs. The Given. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (1):1-30.
    John McDowell, Richard Rorty, and Robert Brandom invoke Sellars’s arguments against the Myth of the Given as having shown that the Given is nothing more than a myth. But most of Sellars’s arguments attack logical atomism, not the framework of givenness as such. Moreover, they do not succeed. At crucial points the arguments confuse the perspectives of a knower and those attributing knowledge to a knower. Only one argument-the “inconsistent triad” argument-addresses the Myth of the Given as such, and there (...)
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  36. Lawrence A. Bonjour (1973). Sellars on Truth and Picturing. International Philosophical Quarterly 13 (2):243-265.
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  37. Robert B. Brandom (2009). Pragmatism, Inferentialism, and Modality in Sellars's Arguments Against Empiricism. In Willem A. DeVries (ed.), Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars. Oxford University Press.
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  38. Robert B. Brandom, The Centrality of Sellars' Two-Ply Account of Observation to the Arguments of Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.
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  39. Józef Bremer (2004). Wilfrid Sellars' Analyse der Moralischen Urteile. In Franz-Josef Bormann & Christian Schroeer (eds.), Abwaegende Vernunft. Walter de Gruyter GmbH.
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  40. Józef Bremer (1997). Rekategorisierung Statt Reduktion: Zu Wilfrid Sellars' Philosophie des Geistes. Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht.
    Einleitung Die Philosophie des Geistes konzentriert sich auf die Frage nach dem Verhältnis des Geistes zur Welt der physikalischen Gegenstände. ...
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  41. Bryson Brown (2006). Skepticism About the Past and the Problem of the Criterion. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6 (2):291-306.
    An argument for skepticism about the past exploits a circularity in the arguments connecting present observations to claims about past events. Arguments supporting claims about the past depend on current observations together with processes linking current observations to those claims. But knowledge of processes requires knowledge of the past: Knowledge of the present alone cannot provide evidence for claims about the past. A practical, coherentist response to this challenge rejects the assumption that we come to the problem with no information (...)
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  42. Harold I. Brown (1986). Sellars, Concepts, and Conceptual Change. Synthese 68 (August):275-307.
    A major theme of recent philosophy of science has been the rejection of the empiricist thesis that, with the exception of terms which play a purely formal role, the language of science derives its meaning from some, possibly quite indirect, correlation with experience. The alternative that has been proposed is that meaning is internal to each conceptual system, that terms derive their meaning from the role they play in a language, and that something akin to "meaning" flows from conceptual framework (...)
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  43. Peter Godley Brown (1980). Kantian Psycholinguistics: Wilfrid Sellars' Philosophy of Language as a Theory of Language Development. Dissertation, Emory University
    In this dissertation I propose a three-stage theory of first-language acquisition, based on the philosophy of language developed by the American philosopher Wilfred Sellars: The Unreflective Stage, in which the child is able to use language to perform so-called linguistic acts, but is una.
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  44. John Albin Broyer (1981). The Philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars: Queries and Extensions. Edited by Joseph C. Pitt. Modern Schoolman 59 (1):77-78.
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  45. Matthew Burstein (2010). Epistemological Behaviorism, Nonconceptual Content, and the Given. Contemporary Pragmatism 7 (1):168-89.
    Debates about nonconceptual content impact many philosophical disciplines, including philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of language. However, arguments made by many philosophers from within the pragmatist tradition, including Quine, Sellars, Davidson, Rorty, and Putnam, undercut the very role such content purportedly plays. I explore how specifically Sellarsian arguments against the Given and Rortian defenses of “epistemological behaviorism” undermine standard conceptions of nonconceptual content. Subsequently, I show that the standard objections to epistemological behaviorism inadequately attend to the essentially social and (...)
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  46. Matthew Burstein (2009). Review of Paul Coates, The Metaphysics of Perception: Wilfrid Sellars, Critical Realism and the Nature of Experience. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (2).
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  47. Matthew Burstein (2006). Prodigal Epistemology: Coherence, Holism, and the Sellarsian Tradition. In M. P. Wolf & M. N. Lance (eds.), Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. Rodopi. 197-216.
    Many philosophers have equated the denial of foundationalism with a call for coherentist approaches to epistemology. I think such equations are spurious, and to show why this is so I contrast the views of a paradigmatic coherentist with an antifoundationalist alternative. This article examines the coherentism of Laurence BonJour with an eye toward the way in which BonJour's views fail to fully adopt the insights of their Sellarsian roots. In particular, I argue that BonJour's view endorses the philosophy of mind (...)
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  48. Matthew Burstein (2006). Situating Experience: Agency, Perception, and the Given. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):1-29.
    William Alston has been a long-time critic of the arguments of Wilfrid Sellars, and he has recently revisited the arguments made by Sellars in “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.” Alston’s work attempts to show how Sellarsian views fail to account for our understanding of perception by making a two-part attack on Sellars’s account: part one of the attack takes up the Sellarsian approach to ‘looks’-talk, and part two concerns Sellars’s thoroughgoing conceptualism with regard to perception. In this article, I (...)
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  49. Panayot K. Butchvarov (1980). Adverbial Theories of Consciousness. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (3):261-80.
  50. C. (1977). Action, Knowledge and Reality: Studies in Honor of Wilfrid Sellars. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 31 (1):112-113.
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