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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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Naturalism Articulated

Naturalism Articulated

(p.344) (p.345) Eleven Naturalism Articulated
Articulating the World

Joseph Rouse

University of Chicago Press

This chapter reviews the book’s constructive conception of naturalism about conceptual capacities and scientific understanding. It specifies four constitutive issues for a naturalistic conception, and the book’s response to them. That response makes two mutually supportive revisions to familiar approaches to naturalism. First, the book explicates conceptual understanding (intentionality) as biologically evolved capacities developed through niche construction, which co-evolve with the human lineage. The normativity of the resulting discursive practices is temporally constituted as two-dimensional, both articulating conceptual contents and holding them accountable to issues and stakes in our ongoing way of life. Second, scientific practices exemplify this account of conceptual normativity, which itself draws upon current scientific work. Scientific research expands and refines the space of reasons, rather than producing a comprehensive body of knowledge within it. Scientific work does not represent the world, but articulates it conceptually, through the interconnections of theoretical modeling with experimental systems. Conceptual development involves both the “internal” development of lawful conceptual domains, and their accountability to broader conceptual issues that account for their scientific significance. Naturalism thereby expresses a conceptual articulation of the natural world from within, rather than a “gods-eye” or “sideways-on” representation of the world and human understanding.

Keywords:   naturalism, intentionality, temporality, two-dimensional normativity, niche construction, scientific understanding, scientific practices, conceptual articulation, representation

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