Rule-following practices in a natural world

Journal of Transcendental Philosophy 1 (1):161-181 (2020)
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I address the question of whether naturalism can provide adequate means for the scientific study of rules and rule-following behavior. As the term "naturalism" is used in many different ways in the contemporary debate, I will first spell out which version of naturalism I am targeting. Then I will recall a classical argument against naturalism in a version presented by Husserl. In the main part of the paper I will sketch a conception of rule-following behavior that is influenced by Sellars and Haugeland. I will argue that rule-following is an essential part of human nature and insist in the social dimension of rules. Moreover, I will focus on the often overlooked fact that genuine rule-following behavior requires resilience and presupposes an inclination to calibrate one's own behavior to that of the other members of the community. Rule-following, I will argue, is possible only for social creatures who follow shared rules, which in turn presupposes a shared (first-person plural) perspective. This implies, however, that our scientific understanding of human nature has to remain incomplete as long as it does not take this perspective, which prima facie seems alien to it, into account.

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Wolfgang Huemer
Università Degli Studi Di Parma


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