Situating Experience: Agency, Perception, and the Given

Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):1-29 (2006)
Abstract
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 argue that there is much in Alston’s view that does violence to our understanding of theoretical and practical reason by removing concepts (and thereby constraint by norms) from perception, and I show that Alston’s two-pronged attack fails due to its inadequate reading of “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind” and its problematic underlying epistemology
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