Why Wilfrid Sellars Is Right (and Right-Wing)

Abstract
Scholars of Wilfrid Sellars’s thought split into Right- and Left-wing Sellarsians. Right-wing Sellarsians urge Sellars’s scientific realism and the prominence of the scientific image of man in the synoptic vision. Left-wing Sellarsians emphasize the prominence of the logical space of reasons over that of causes, rejecting Sellars’s scientism. In his recent book James O’Shea attempts to reconcile these Sellarsian images, arguing that one best understands the Sellarsian synoptic image in terms of a norm/nature meta-principle that endorses the conceptual irreducibility and causal reducibility of norms. In this paper, I argue that O’Shea’s norm/nature meta-principle renders Sellars’s synoptic vision a Left-wing one. In its stead, I present a Sellarsian ideal: the view that Sellars ought to have held, whether he did so or not. My synoptic Sellarsian vision is based in part on the claim that Sellars found norms in nature and on a scientifically based philosophical account of norms in nature, whether these norms be biological, psychological, social, cultural or personal. I maintain then that Sellars was a Right-wing Sellarsian and that, if he wasn’t, he should have been. Indeed, a Sellars redivivus would be the leader of his party!
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