Intersubjectivity and Receptive Experience

Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (1):22-42 (2014)

Rebecca Kukla
Georgetown University
Mark Lance
Georgetown University
Wilfrid Sellars's iconic exposé of the ‘myth of the given’ taught us that experience must present the world to us as normatively laden, in the sense that the contents of experience must license inferences, rule out and justify various beliefs, and rationalize actions. Somehow our beliefs must be governed by the objects as they present themselves to us. Often this requirement is cashed out using language that attributes agent-like properties to objects: we are described as ‘accountable to’ objects, while objects ‘hold us’ to standards, and so forth. But such language is either deeply anti-naturalistic or trades on a set of metaphors in need of a literal translation. We offer an explanation of how the material features of the world, as received in experience, can rationally constrain our beliefs and practices—one that makes no recourse to this imagery. In particular, we examine the structure of ostensive practices (that is, practices of directing one another's attention to objects and features of the world) and the distinctive role they play in making us jointly beholden to how things actually are
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DOI 10.1111/sjp.12047
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