Normativity and Scientific Naturalism in Sellars’ ‘Janus‐Faced’ Space of Reasons

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (3):459-471 (2010)
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The thought of Wilfrid Sellars has figured prominently in recent discussions of the relationship between naturalism and normativity . On the one hand, some have appealed to Sellars' philosophy in defence of the thesis that what he called the normative 'space of reasons' is in some sense sui generis and irreducible to the natural causal order described by the natural sciences. On the other hand, others have exploited equally central aspects of Sellars' philosophy in defence of the seemingly incompatible project of attempting to give an exhaustive scientifically naturalist account of mind and meaning, and perhaps of the nature of normativity itself. I contend that what Sellars described as 'the Janus-faced character of languagings as belonging to both the causal order and the order of reasons' ( Naturalism and Ontology ) is the key to understanding his normative and pragmatist variety of naturalism. Sellars saw himself as having articulated a detailed philosophical perspective within which the normative aspects of meaning, knowledge, truth, and representation are themselves opened up, in principle, to naturalistic explanation



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Author Profiles

James O'Shea
University College Dublin
Jim O'Shea
University College Dublin

References found in this work

Mind and World.John Henry McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Science, Perception and Reality.Wilfrid Sellars (ed.) - 1963 - New York,: Humanities Press.
Empiricism and the philosophy of mind.Wilfrid Sellars - 1956 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1:253-329.
Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.

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