Volume 95, Issue 1, January 2017
Reconciling Scientific Naturalism with the Unconditionality of the Moral Point of View
A Sellars-Inspired Account
In this article, I investigate the possibility of reconciling a radically disenchanted scientific naturalism in ontology with the unconditional and non-instrumental character of the moral point of view. My point of departure will be Sellars’s philosophy, which attempts to satisfy both those, seemingly unreconcilable, demands at once. I shall argue that there is a tension between those two demands that finds expression both at the theoretical and practical level, and which is not adequately resolved from a strictly Sellarsian perspective. I will then develop a neo-Sellarsian framework, close to the spirit—if not the letter—of Sellars’s philosophy, which, as I will suggest, can live up to this task. This solution depends (1) on insisting on both the semantic irreducibility and explanatory reducibility of moral normativity to non-normative facts, while simultaneously acknowledging that those two dimensions mutually presuppose and support on another, and (2) on recognizing that the instrumental facets of theoretical-scientific rationality need not imply a coercive attitude toward nature, ourselves, and others.