Normative Functionalism in the Pittsburgh School

Normative Functionalism and the Pittsburgh School (2012)
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Abstract

Sellars, Brandom, and McDowell (whom Maher aptly calls the “Pittsburgh School”) have tremendous influence on the current shape of the analytic tradition. Despite their differing views on philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and epistemology, their shared application of ‘normative functionalism’ highlights important similarities in their approaches to the aforementioned disciplines. Normative functionalism interprets the ability to form judgments, possess concepts, rationally defend or be critical of judgments, and consequently act as an agent, as largely guided by one’s responsiveness to norms. In this article, I argue for two related claims. First, I argue that the Pittsburgh School’s normative functionalism has germinated from the seed of Sellars’ ‘psychological nominalism’ and cannot be separated from it. Second, no philosophical question or approach can be free of competing claims as to the manner in which human beings think, communicate, act, and know. As a result, normative functionalism (insofar as it is a natural extension of psychological nominalism) is relevant to many philosophical disciplines, because it opposes nearly all the traditional views concerning how the human intellect comes into being and functionally operates.

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Patrick Reider
Duquesne University

Citations of this work

Objectivity and ‘First Philosophies’ [Chapter 1 of Objectivity].Guy Axtell - 2016 - In Objectivity. Cambridge UK; Malden MA: Polity Press; Wiley. pp. 19-45.
The Pittsburgh School, The Given and Knowledge.Tom Rockmore - 2012 - Normative Functionalism and the Pittsburgh School.

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