Article ID: CBB228770461

From Formalism to Psychology: Metaphilosophical Shifts in Wilfrid Sellars’s Early Works (2016)


When discussing Wilfrid Sellars’s philosophy, very little work has been done to offer a developmental account of his systematic views. More often than not, Sellars’s complex views are presented in a systematic and holistic fashion that ignores any periodization of his work. I argue that there is a metaphilosophical shift in Sellars’s early philosophy that results in substantive changes to his conception of language, linguistic rules, and normativity. Specifically, I claim that Sellars’s shift from a formalist metaphilosophy to one more closely aligned with psychology allows for the construction of a normative conception of language. My central claim is that without his abandonment of earlier metaphilosophical commitments, Sellars could not hold what I call an external conception of normativity. It is this move away from a formalist notion of philosophy that allows Sellars to construct a normative picture of language. I conclude that because this substantive shift in philosophical commitments results from changes in Sellars’s metaphilosophical views, there is insight to be found in a meticulous periodization of his work.

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Authors & Contributors
DeVries, Willem A.
Triplett, Timm
Bayer, Thora Ilin
Verene, Donald Phillip
Bock, Walter J.
Ghiselin, Michael T.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Biology and Philosophy
Acta Philosophica
Perspectives on Science
Neusis: The Greek Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
History of the Human Sciences
Hackett Publishing Company
Yale University Press
Oxford University Press
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Cambridge University Press
Philosophy of science
Quantum mechanics
Sellars, Wilfrid
Heidegger, Martin
Duhem, Pierre
Cassirer, Ernst
Carnap, Rudolf
Hartmann, Nicolai
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
Early modern

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