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Articulating the WorldConceptual Understanding and the Scientific Image$
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Joseph Rouse

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226293677

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226293707.001.0001

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Two Concepts of Objectivity

Two Concepts of Objectivity

(p.170) Five Two Concepts of Objectivity
Articulating the World

Joseph Rouse

University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers the normativity (“objectivity”) of conceptual understanding as a form of behavioral niche construction. Objectivity is first considered as an epistemic concept, applicable to judgments as knowledge claims, along with influential criticisms of these epistemic conceptions. Davidson, Brandom, McDowell and Haugeland develop an alternative conception of objectivity as normative for conceptually articulated understanding, thereby aiming to show epistemic conceptions to be superfluous. This strategy is more promising, but recent criticisms suggest these accounts also fail, in parallel to the criticisms of epistemic conceptions of objectivity. The chapter then develops a different approach to conceptual objectivity, treating knowers/agents as organisms in environments (rather than subjects confronting external objects), and as participants in social practices, whose performances depend upon how they align with what other practitioners do in partially shared circumstances. The temporality of these interactions within environmentally situated social practices enables the normative accountability of performances within practices, and of the practices themselves. Temporally extended patterns of a practice are accountable to what is at issue in its ongoing development, and what is at stake in how those issues are resolved. On this account, the Sellarsian space of reasons is our discursive environmental niche.

Keywords:   normativity, conceptual understanding, behavioral niche construction, epistemic objectivity, conceptual objectivity, Davidson, McDowell, social practices, temporality, space of reasons

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