Prospects for a Stereoscopic Vision of our Thinking Nature: On Sellars, Brandom, and Millikan
In this article I consider how the very different but equally Sellars-inspired views of Robert Brandom and Ruth Millikan serve to highlight both the deep difficulties and the prospects for a solution to what is arguably the most central problem raised by Sellars’s attempted “stereoscopic fusion” of the “manifest” and “scientific images”: namely, the question of the nature and place of norm-governed conceptual thinking within the natural world. I distinguish two “stereoscopic tasks”: (1) the possibility of integrating a naturalistic theory of animal representation within an irreducibly normative inferentialist account of conceptual content; and (2) the possibility of providing a naturalistic explanation of the normative “space of reasons” and conceptual thinking as such. Millikan embraces and Brandom resists the naturalistic representationalist hypotheses involved in (1); while Brandom embraces and Millikan resists the conception of pragmatically irreducible normativity involved in (2). The grounds of resistance in each case are arguably suspect.
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