Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781) remains a landmark work of philosophy and one that most students will encounter at some point in their studies. At nearly seven hundred pages of detailed and complex argument it is a demanding and intimidating read. James O’Shea’s introduction to the Critique seeks to make it less so. Aimed primarily at students coming to the book for the first time, it provides step-by-step analysis in clear, unambiguous prose. The conceptual problems Kant sought to (...) resolve are outlined and his conclusions concerning the nature of human knowledge and the possibility of metaphysics, and the arguments for those conclusions, are explored. Key concepts are explained throughout and the reader is provided with an unrivalled route map through the many and varied parts of the text. In addition, O’Shea’s careful and insightful analysis offers much for more seasoned readers of Kant and his interpretation provides a significant contribution to recent work. -/- “Exhibiting both care and liveliness, the text provides what it set out to offer, namely] a readable and philosophically stimulating discussion of a difficult but seminal work. The discussion is genuinely approachable and clear without diminishing the difficulty of the problems it addresses. It provides students with a very helpful basis for understanding Kant’s book.” Graham Bird, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Manchester . (shrink)
Recent proponents of the ‘theory theory’ of mind often trace its roots back to Wilfrid Sellars’ famous ‘myth of Jones’ in his 1956 article, ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind’. Sellars developed an account of the intersubjective basis of our knowledge of the inner mental states of both self and others, an account which included the claim that such knowledge is in some sense theoretical knowledge. This paper examines the nature of this claim in Sellars’ original account and its relationship (...) to more recent debates concerning ‘theory of mind’, in particular the theory theory. A close look reveals that Sellars’ original view embodied several distinctions that would enable more recent theory theorists to accommodate certain phenomenological objections that have been raised against that outlook. At the heart of the philosophical issue is an overlooked complexity involved in Sellars’ account of the ‘theory/observation’ distinction, involving a conception of the distinction that is both independently plausible and a key to the issue in dispute. (shrink)
The contention in this paper is that central to Sellars’s famous attempt to fuse the “manifest image” and the “scientific image” of the human being in the world was an attempt to marry a particularly strong form of scientific naturalism with various modified Kantian a priori principles about the unity of the self and the structure of human knowledge. The modified Kantian aspects of Sellars’s view have been emphasized by current “left wing” Sellarsians, while the scientific naturalist aspects have been (...) championed by “right wing” Sellarsians, the latter including William Rottschaefer’s constructive criticisms of my own reconciling interpretation of Sellars. In this paper I focus first on how (1) Sellars’s Kantian conception of the necessary a priori unity of the thinking self does not conflict with his ideal scientific naturalist conception of persons as “bundles” or pluralities of scientifically postulated processes. This then prepares the way for a more comprehensive discussion of how (2) Sellars’s modified Kantian account of the substantive a priori principles that make possible any conceptualized knowledge of a world does not conflict with his simultaneous demand for an ideal scientific explanation and evolutionary account of those same conceptual capacities. Sellars’s own attempted via media synthesis—what I call his “Kantian scientific naturalism”—merits another look from both the left and the right. (shrink)
(2010). Introduction: Naturalism, Normativity, and the Space of Reasons. International Journal of Philosophical Studies: Vol. 18, Naturalism, Normativity, and the Space of Reasons, pp. 313-315. doi: 10.1080/09672559.2010.494434.
The thought of Wilfrid Sellars has figured prominently in recent discussions of the relationship between naturalism and normativity . On the one hand, some have appealed to Sellars' philosophy in defence of the thesis that what he called the normative 'space of reasons' is in some sense sui generis and irreducible to the natural causal order described by the natural sciences. On the other hand, others have exploited equally central aspects of Sellars' philosophy in defence of the seemingly incompatible project (...) of attempting to give an exhaustive scientifically naturalist account of mind and meaning, and perhaps of the nature of normativity itself. I contend that what Sellars described as 'the Janus-faced character of languagings as belonging to both the causal order and the order of reasons' ( Naturalism and Ontology ) is the key to understanding his normative and pragmatist variety of naturalism. Sellars saw himself as having articulated a detailed philosophical perspective within which the normative aspects of meaning, knowledge, truth, and representation are themselves opened up, in principle, to naturalistic explanation. (shrink)
The work of the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars continues to have a significant impact on the contemporary philosophical scene. 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.
This article examines the relationship in Kant between transcendental laws and empirical laws (focusing on causal laws), and then brings a particular interpretation of that issue to bear on familiar puzzles concerning the status of the regulative maxims of reason and reflective judgment. It is argued that the 'indeterminate objective validity' possessed by the regulative maxims derives ultimately from strictly constitutive demands of understanding.