Chapter

Pragmatism, Inferentialism, and Modality in Sellars's Arguments against Empiricism

Robert B. Brandom

in Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199573301
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722172 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573301.003.0003

Series: Mind Association Occasional Series

Pragmatism, Inferentialism, and Modality in Sellars's Arguments against Empiricism

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This chapter places the arguments against empiricism presented in the first half of ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind’ in the larger context opened up by laying them alongside the further battery of arguments Sellars aimed at the empiricist treatment of modality. The focus is on Sellars's pragmatist insistence on looking at what one must be able to do in order to deploy empirical descriptive vocabulary, and his rationalist commitment to the necessary inferential articulation of the concepts expressed by the use of such vocabulary. His view is that anyone who has the practical ability to deploy ‘purely descriptive’ vocabulary already knows how to do everything he needs to know how to do to deploy modal vocabulary as well, since what one is doing in making a modal claim is endorsing a pattern of inference.

Keywords: Sellars; inference; modality empiricism; pragmatism

Chapter.  9877 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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