Resisting the Disenchantment of Nature: McDowell and the Question of Animal Minds

Inquiry 55 (2):131-147 (2012)
Abstract McDowell's contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind turn centrally on his defense of the Aristotelian concept of a ?rational animal?. I argue here that a clarification of how McDowell uses this concept can make more explicit his distance from Davidson regarding the nature of the minds of non-rational animals. Close examination of his responses to Davidson and to Dennett shows that McDowell is implicitly committed to avoiding the following ?false trichotomy?: that animals are not bearers of semantic content at all, that they are bearers of content in the same sense we are, and that they are bearer of ?as if? content. Avoiding the false trichotomy requires that we understand non-rational animals as having concepts but not as making judgments. Furthermore, we need to supplement McDowell's distinction between the logical spaces of reasons and of the realm of law with what Finkelstein calls ?the logical space of animate life?. Though McDowell has taken some recent steps to embrace a view like this, I urge a more demanding conception than what McDowell has thus far suggested
Keywords McDowell  naturalism  animal minds  Davidson  Dennett
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DOI 10.1080/0020174X.2012.661576
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References found in this work BETA
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.
Mind, Value, and Reality.John Henry McDowell - 1998 - Harvard University Press.

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