# Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity

Authors: Olen, Peter

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While Wilfrid Sellars’ philosophy is often depicted in an ahistorical fashion, this book explores the consequences of placing his work in its historical context. In order to show how Sellars’ early publications depend on contextual factors, Peter Olen reconstructs the conceptions of language, psychological, and social explanation that dominated American philosophy in the early 20th century. Because of Sellars’ differing explanations of language and behaviour, Olen argues that many of Sellars’ early commitments are incompatible with his later works. In the course of doing so, Olen highlights problematic tensions between Sellars’ early and later conceptions of language, meta-philosophy, and normativity.

Supplementing the main text is a collection of previously unpublished archival material from Wilfrid Sellars, Gustav Bergmann, Everett Hall, and other early 20th century philosophers. This text will be a useful resource to those with an interest in the history of American philosophy, the history of analytic philosophy, Wilfrid Sellars’ philosophy, and the myriad issues surrounding normativity and language.

Peter Olen is a faculty member in Philosophy at Lake Sumter State College, USA. He has presented papers at numerous national and international conferences, and has published articles on the history and philosophy of science, the history of analytic philosophy, normativity, and American philosophy. His most recent publication is “The Realist Challenge to Conceptual Pragmatism” in The European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy.

Reviews

“In this very informative volume, Peter Olen addresses questions that are of interest both to philosophers generally and to students of Sellars’s thought in particular. … Given the significance of these questions and the prominence of Sellars as one of the leading Anglo-American philosophers of the twentieth century, Olen’s book is a welcome contribution. … readers will gain much from Olen’s contribution to understanding Sellars’s views on questions central to the philosopher’s agenda.” (William A. Rottschaefer, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol. 55 (4), October, 2017)

“Peter Olen’s unmatched historical analysis of hitherto unnoticed changes in the development of Wilfrid Sellars’ thought probes deeply into what is perhaps the most hotly disputed of modern philosophical ambitions: namely, to explain our own rational nature scientifically, or ‘naturalistically’, but without thereby explaining away those normative ‘ought’s that arguably make us the reasoning and evaluative beings that we are.” (James R. O’Shea, University College Dublin (UCD))

“Recently, much attention has been paid to the work of Wilfrid Sellars - one of the most important systematic philosophers of the 20th century. ... Drawing on extensive archival research, and fleshing out the intellectual context of Sellars's early work, Pete Olen demonstrates several crucial ways that Sellars's thought changed and developed from his early "pure pragmatics" period to his less formalistic, and much more famous, work in the 50s and 60s. Olen's study will be valuable both for historians of 20th century philosophy and for those interested in any of the contemporary Sellarsian or post-Sellarsian approaches to philosophical issues ... .” (Mark Lance, Georgetown University, USA)

“This is a very good book on the work of Wilfrid Sellars. Some of us who are sympathetic with Sellars’ views think we can use his early work to elucidate and support views in his later work. By carefully reconstructing the philosophical context of Sellars’ earliest essays, Olen explains why doing so is risky, showing that we should take care not to treat Sellars’ work as a single, consistent corpus, but one that is fragmented, inconsistent, and grew over time. That is a fitting observation, given that Sellars often stressed the diachronic and corrective character of knowledge and philosophy.” (Chauncey Maher, Dickinson College, USA)

• Introduction: Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity

Pages 1-10

Olen, Peter

• Wilfrid Sellars’ Early Historical Context

Pages 11-35

Olen, Peter

• Pure Pragmatics

Pages 37-67

Olen, Peter

• The Reception History of Pure Pragmatics

Pages 69-97

Olen, Peter

• Beyond Formalism

Pages 99-127

Olen, Peter

eBook $84.99 price for USA • ISBN 978-1-137-52717-2 • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free • Included format: EPUB, PDF • Immediate eBook download after purchase and usable on all devices • Bulk discounts available Hardcover$109.99
price for USA

## Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity
Authors
2016
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK