Volume 58, Issue 1, March 2018
Louis Caruana, S.J.
Nature, Science, and Critical Explicitation
Does Conceptual Structure Reflect How Things Are?
Science has uncovered many mistakes that had been hidden for centuries among implicit everyday assumptions. When we make explicit what lies implicit within language, there is no guarantee that we will arrive at truth about the world. Many therefore assume that only science delivers truth. Recent debates on this issue often refer to Wilfred Sellars’s arguments against the pre-conceptual given but conclude that his additional insistence on the exclusivity of the scientific image of the world is unfounded. In this paper I resort to Robert Brandom’s development of these arguments to show that saying a word, understanding a concept and engaging in some practices go together. Both laws of nature and social norms regulate these practices and determine the identity conditions of objects. I argue therefore that the conceptual scheme indeed reflects the nature of things because it results from our successful engagement with the world during the long sweep of evolutionary time.