David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Willem A. DeVries (ed.), Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars. Oxford University Press (2009)
1. I take my question from Robert Brandom, who remarks in his Study Guide (167): “The title of this essay is ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,’ but Sellars never comes right out and tells us what his attitude toward empiricism is.”1 Brandom goes on to discuss a passage that might seem to indicate a sympathy for empiricism on Sellars’s part, but he dismisses any such reading of it. (I shall come back to this.) He concludes: “Indeed, we can see at this point [he has reached §45] that one of the major tasks of the whole essay is to dismantle empiricism” (168). I am going to argue that this claim is quite wrong. To do Brandom justice, I should note that when he defends his claim, what he mentions is, specifically, traditional empiricism. But he nowhere contemplates a possibility left open by this more detailed (and correct) specification of Sellars’s target — the possibility that Sellars might be aiming to rescue a non-traditional empiricism from the wreckage of traditional empiricism, so that he can show us how to be good empiricists. I think that is exactly what Sellars aims to do in this essay
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