Liberal Naturalism and Second-Personal Space: A Neo-Pragmatist Response to “The Natural Origins of Content”

Philosophia 43 (3):565-578 (2015)
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Reviewing the state of play in the attempt to naturalise content a quarter of a century after John Haugeland’s survey paper “The Intentionality All-Stars”, Dan Hutto and Glenda Satne propose a new naturalistic account of content that supposedly synthesizes what is best in the three failed programs of neo-Cartesianism, neo-Behaviourism and neo-Pragmatism. They propose to appeal to a Relaxed Naturalism, a non-reductive genealogical form of explanation and a primitive notion of contentless ur-intentionality. In this paper I argue that the authors’ Relaxed Naturalism is a broad form of Scientific Naturalism and, as such, it is unable to account for the problem of conceptual normativity that arises for any scientific naturalist attempt to explain content – whether reductive or not. This is based on the irreconcilability of the objective third-personal character of scientific inquiry and the intersubjective second-personal nature of the normativity of content. I suggest that the authors would do better to simply become neo-Pragmatists who, properly understood, are Liberal Naturalists who have the conceptual and methodological resources to acknowledge and do justice to conceptually normative content



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David Macarthur
University of Sydney

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Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57:321-332.
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