1. The lever in question is, of course, that with which, provided that an appropriate fulcrum could be found, Archimedes could move the world. In the analogy I have in mind, the fulcrum is the given, by virtue of which the mind gets leverage on the world of knowledge.
Inference and meaning -- Some reflections on language games -- Language as thought and as communication -- Meaning as functional classification : a perspective on the relation of syntax to semantics -- Naming and saying -- Grammar and existence : a preface to ontology -- Abstract entities -- Being and being known -- The lever of Archimedes -- Some reflections on thoughts and things -- Mental events -- Phenomenalism -- The identity approach to the mind-body problem -- Philosophy and the (...) scientific image of man -- "...this I or he or it (the thing) which thinks..." -- Some remarks on Kant's theory of experience -- The role of imagination in Kant's theory of experience. (shrink)
In an oft-quoted passage from The Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham addresses the issue of our treatment of animals with the following words: ‘the question is not, Can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, Can they suffer?’ The point is well taken, for surely if animals suffer, they are legitimate objects of our moral concern. It is curious therefore, given the current interest in the moral status of animals, that Bentham's question has been assumed to be merely (...) rhetorical. No-one has seriously examined the claim, central to arguments for animal liberation and animal rights, that animals actually feel pain. Peter Singer's Animal Liberation is perhaps typical in this regard. His treatment of the issue covers a scant seven pages, after which he summarily announces that ‘there are no good reasons, scientific or philosophical, for denying that animals feel pain’. In this paper I shall suggest that the issue of animal pain is not so easily dispensed with, and that the evidence brought forward to demonstrate that animals feel pain is far from conclusive. (shrink)
During the last forty or so years it has become popular to offer explanations of logical notions in terms of games. There is no doubt that many people find games helpful for understanding various logical phenomena. But we ask whether anything is really 'explained' by these accounts, and we analyse Paul Lorenzen's dialogue foundations for constructive logic as an example. The conclusion is that the value of games lies in their ability to provide helpful metaphors and representations, rather than in (...) any true conceptual analysis. In fact some of the standard explanations of logical notions in terms of competitive games simply don't work. /// [Erik C. W. Krabbe] In an attempt to redeem the Lorenzen-type dialogues from their detractors, it is perhaps best first to provide a survey of the various benefits these dialogues have been supposed to yield. This will be done in Section I. It will not be possible, within the confines of this paper, to scrutinize them all, but in Section II we shall delve deeper into the capacity of this type of dialogue to yield a model for the immanent criticism of philosophical positions. Section III will extend the concept of a dialogue in such a way as to conform better with our intuitive conceptions of what a rational discussion of a position should contain. This will be followed up by a concept of 'winning a dialogue' that takes position midway between the old conception of 'winning one play' and that of the full-fledged presentation of a winning strategy . Concepts of 'rational discussion' are thus shown to be, plausibly, more fundamental than those of proof. In Section IV, I shall discuss the specific problems about dialogical foundations put forward by Wilfrid Hodges. (shrink)
This collection features eleven original essays, divided into three thematic sections, which explore the work of Wilfrid Sellars in relation to other twentieth-century thinkers. Section I analyzes Sellars’s thought in light of some of his influential predecessors, specifically Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, John Cook Wilson, and Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz. The second group of essays explores from different perspectives Sellars’s place within the analytic tradition, including his relation with analytic Kantianism and analytic pragmatism. The book’s final section extracts some of the (...) most significant lessons Sellars’s work has to offer for contemporary philosophy. These chapters address his views on inference, his views on truth and its connection to recent discussions about truth-relativism and truth-pluralism, his conception of self-knowledge, and his theory of perceptual experience. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars has been called "the most profound and systematic epistemological thinker of the twentieth century". He was in many respects ahead of his time, and many of his innovations have become widely acknowledged, for example, his attack on the "myth of the given", his functionalist treatment of intentional states, his proposal that psychological concepts are like theoretical concepts, and his suggestion that attributions of knowledge locate the knower "in the logical space of reasons". However, while many philosophers have (...) begun to acknowledge Sellars's inspiration in their work, their interpretation of his thought has not always been the most accurate. His writings are difficult. Individually, his essays are complex and sometimes rely on doctrines and arguments he put forward elsewhere. Each of his articles is deepened and strengthened by seeing it in its systematic context, but he never wrote a unified exposition of his system, which therefore has to be pieced together from numerous disparate sources. Willem deVries addresses these difficulties specifically and provides a careful reading and remarkable overview of Sellars's systematic philosophy that will become the standard point of reference for all philosophers seeking to understand Sellars's hugely significant body of work. (shrink)
‘Metaphysics’, said Bradley, ‘is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe on instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.’ This idea that reasoning is both instinctive and feeble is reminiscent of Hume; except that reasons in Hume tend to serve as the solvent rather than the support of instinctive beliefs. Instinct leads us to play backgammon with other individuals whom we assume inhabit a world which exists independently of our own perception and which will (...) continue to exist tomorrow in a similar fashion to today. However, when instinct leads us also to reason about these beliefs they are all subject to sceptical attack. Their defence provides a challenge, a challenge which in thumbnail histories of the subject is met by Kant. He does this by use of a powerful new form of argument which he calls transcendental argument and which, in my opinion, provides not only reasons but also good reasons for the defence of some of our most central instinctive beliefs. The strategy involved in this kind of argument is to reflect on the necessary preconditions for comprehensible experience. In this way, some beliefs which are subject to sceptical attack, such as that there is a causal order between objects which exist independently of our experience of them, can be found to be the essential preconditions for having comprehensible experience at all. The reason for accepting them is, therefore, that they are the necessary preconditions of having any beliefs at all; and this provides a good, rather than a bad, reason for accepting these particular instinctive beliefs. (shrink)
The philosophy department in Edinburgh is in David Hume tower; the philosophy faculty at Cambridge is in Sidgwick Avenue. In one way, no competition. Everybody has heard of Hume, whereas even the anybody who's anybody may not have heard of Sidgwick. Yet in another way, Sidgwick wins this arcane contest. For if David Hume, contradicting the Humean theory of personal identity, were to return to Edinburgh, he would not recognize the tower. Whereas, if someone with more success in rearousing spirits (...) than Sidgwick himself had could now produce him, Sidgwick would know the avenue. For he planned it; he partially paid for it; and he pushed it past the local opposition. He was its creator. And creator not just of the avenue: if Sidgwick is not quite the only begetter, it was he more than anyone who was responsible for building the school of philosophy in Cambridge which is being celebrated in this series of articles. (shrink)
The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term. Under 'things in the broadest possible sense' I include such radically different items as not only 'cabbages and kings', but numbers and duties, possibilities and finger snaps, aesthetic experience and death. To achieve success in philosophy would be, to use a contemporary turn of phrase, to 'know one's way around' with respect (...) to all these things, not in that unreflective way in which the centipede of the story knew its way around before it faced the question, 'how do I walk?', but in that reflective way which means that no intellectual holds are barred. (shrink)
The work of the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars continues to have a significant impact on the contemporary philosophical scene. His writings have influenced major thinkers such as Rorty, McDowell, Brandom, and Dennett, and many of Sellars basic conceptions, such as the logical space of reasons, the myth of the given, and the manifest and scientific images, have become standard philosophical terms. Often, however, recent uses of these terms do not reflect the richness or the true sense of Sellars original (...) ideas. This book gets to the heart of Sellars philosophy and provides students with a comprehensive critical introduction to his lifes work. The book is structured around what Sellars himself regarded as the philosophers overarching task: to achieve a coherent vision of reality that will finally overcome the continuing clashes between the world as common sense takes it to be and the world as science reveals it to be. It provides a clear analysis of Sellars groundbreaking philosophy of mind, his novel theory of consciousness, his defense of scientific realism, and his thoroughgoing naturalism with a normative turn. Providing a lively examination of Sellars work through the central problem of what it means to be a human being in a scientific world, this book will be a valuable resource for all students of philosophy. (shrink)
Studies in Wilfrid Sellars' philosophy: Aune, B. Sellars on practical reason.--Castañeda, H.-N. Some reflections on Wilfrid Sellars' theory of intentions.--Donagan, A. Determinism and freedom: Sellars and the reconciliationist thesis.--Robinson, W. S. The legend of the given.--Clark, R. The sensuous content of perception.--Grossmann, R. Perceptual objects, elementary particles, and emergent properties.--Rosenberg, J. F. The elusiveness of categories, the Archimedean dilemma, and the nature of man: a study in Sellarsian metaphysics.--Turnbull, R. G. Things, natures, and properties.--Wells, R. The indispensable word (...) "now."--Van Fraassen, B. C. Theories and counterfactuals.--Harman, G. H. Wilfrid Sellars' Theory of induction.--Sellarsiana: Sellars, W. Autobiographical reflections.--Sellars, W. The structure of knowledge. Lecture I, perception. Lecture II, minds. Lecture III, epistemic principles.--Wilfrid Sellars' Philosophical bibliography. (p. 349-353). (shrink)
This book develops a general philosophical theory about the nature of law and its relationship with morality called inclusive legal positivism. In addition to articulating and defending his own version of legal positivism, which is a refinement and development of the views of H.L.A. Hart as expressed in his classic book The Concept of Law, the author clarifies the terms of current jurisprudential debates about the nature of law. These debates are often clouded by failures to appreciate that different theorists (...) are offering different kinds of theories and attempting to answer different questions. The clarity of Waluchow's work will help to remove the confusion often present in jurisprudential debate. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars’s ethical theory was rich and deeply innovative. On Sellars’s view, moral judgments express a special kind of shared intention. Thus, we should see Sellars as an early advocate of an expressivism of plans and intentions, and an early theorist of collective intentionality. He supplemented this theory with a sophisticated logic of intentions, a robust theory of the categorical validity of normative expressions, a subtle way of reconciling the cognitive and motivating aspects of moral judgment, and much more— (...) all within a strict nominalism that preserves Sellars’s commitment to naturalism. The Ethics of Wilfrid Sellars offers the first systematic treatment of this sadly neglected aspect of Sellars’s work and demonstrates that his ethical theory— just like his more widely discussed epistemology— has much to contribute to current debates. (shrink)
We consider two formalisations of the notion of a compositionalsemantics for a language, and find some equivalent statements in termsof substitutions. We prove a theorem stating necessary and sufficientconditions for the existence of a canonical compositional semanticsextending a given partial semantics, after discussing what features onewould want such an extension to have. The theorem involves someassumptions about semantical categories in the spirit of Husserl andTarski.
This collection of new essays on the systematic thought and intellectual legacy of the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars (1912–1989) comes at a time when Sellars’s influence on contemporary debates about mind, meaning, knowledge, and metaphysics has never been greater. Sellars was among the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, and many of his central ideas have become philosophical stock-in-trade: for example, his conceptions of the ‘myth of the given’, the ‘logical space of reasons’, and the ‘clash’ between the (...) ‘manifest and scientific images of man-in-the-world’. This volume of well-known contemporary philosophers who have been strongly influenced by Sellars – Robert Brandom, Willem deVries, Robert Kraut, Rebecca Kukla, Mark Lance, John McDowell, Ruth Millikan, James O’Shea, David Rosenthal, Johanna Seibt, and Michael Williams – critically examines the groundbreaking ideas by means of which Sellars sought to integrate our thought, perception, and rational agency within a naturalistic outlook on reality. Topics include Sellars’s inferentialist semantics and normative functionalist view of the mind; his attempted reconciliations of internalist and externalist aspects of thought, meaning, and knowledge; his novel nominalist account of abstract entities; and a speculative ‘pure process’ metaphysics of consciousness. Of particular interest is how this volume exhibits the ongoing fruitful dialogue between so-called ‘left-wing Sellarsians’, who stress Sellars’s various Kantian and pragmatist defenses of the irreducibility of normativity and rationality within the space of reasons, and ‘right-wing Sellarsians’ who defend the plausibility of Sellars’s highly ambitious and systematic scientific naturalism. (shrink)