Naturalism, the Autonomy of Reason, and Pictures

Sellars was committed to the irreducibility of the semantic, the intentional, and the normative. Nevertheless, he was also committed to naturalism, which is prima facie at odds with his other theses. This paper argues that Sellars maintained his naturalism by being linguistically pluralistic but ontologically monistic . There are irreducibly distinct forms of discourse, because there is an array of distinguishable functions that language and thought perform, but we are not ontologically committed to the array of apparently non-natural entities or relations mentioned in the metalanguage. However, there is an underlying relation between language and world presupposed by all empirically meaningful language. In his early work Sellars sought to describe this relation in linguistic terms as a form of 'pure description', but inadequacies in that notion drove him towards the naturalistic relation between language and world that he came to call 'picturing'.
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DOI 10.1080/09672559.2010.492120
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References found in this work BETA
Wilfrid S. Sellars (1956). Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1:253-329.
Willard van Orman Quine (1948). On What There Is. Review of Metaphysics 2 (5):21--36.
Willem A. deVries (2005). Wilfrid Sellars. Acumen/McGill-Queens University Press.
Willem deVries, Wilfrid Sellars. Review of Metaphysics.
Wilfrid Sellars (1952). Particulars. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 13 (2):184-199.

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