Wilfrid Sellars' Anti-Descriptivism

In Koskinen (ed.), Categories of Being (forthcoming)

Kevin Scharp
University of St. Andrews
The work of Kripke, Putnam, Kaplan, and others initiated a tradition in philosophy that has come to be known as anti-descriptivism. I argue that when properly interpreted, Wilfrid Sellars is a staunch anti-descriptivist. Not only does he accept most of the conclusions drawn by the more famous anti-descriptivists, he goes beyond their critiques to reject the fundamental tenant of descriptivism—that understanding a linguistic expression consists in mentally grasping its meaning and associating that meaning with the expression. I show that Sellars’ alternative accounts of language and the mind provide novel justifications for the anti-descriptivists’ conclusions. Finally, I present what I take to be a Sellarsian analysis of an important anti-descriptivist issue: the relation between metaphysical modal notions (e.g., possibility) and epistemic modal notions (e.g., conceivability). The account I present involves extension of the strategy he uses to explain both the relation between physical object concepts (e.g., whiteness) and sensation concepts (e.g., the appearance of whiteness), and the relation between concepts that apply to linguistic activity (e.g., sentential meaning) and those that apply to conceptual activity (e.g., thought content).
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,133
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Taking Theories Seriously.Richard Creath - 1985 - Synthese 62 (3):317 - 345.
Wilfrid Sellars.Willem deVries - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Pure Processes and Projective Metaphysics.Johanna Seibt - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 101 (2-3):253-289.
Why Wilfrid Sellars Is Right.William A. Rottschaefer - 2011 - Journal of Philosophical Research 36:291-325.
Essentialist arguments against descriptivism.Michael McGlone - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (4):443-462.


Added to PP index

Total views
78 ( #137,286 of 2,448,176 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #451,050 of 2,448,176 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes