Sellars' Argument for an Ontology of Absolute Processes

Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 7 (1):1-25 (2019)
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Abstract

Scholars have rejected Wilfrid Sellars’ argument for an ontology of absolute processes on the grounds that it relies on a dubious and dogmatic appeal to the homogeneity of color. Borrowing from Rosenthal’s recent defense, but ultimate rejection of homogeneity, I defend this claim of on Sellarsian/Kantian transcendental grounds, and reconstruct the remainder of his argument. I argue that Sellars has good reason to suppose that homogeneity is a necessary condition of any possible experience, including indirect experience of theoretical-explanatory posits, and therefore good reason to hold that Reductive Materialism, as he conceives it, is an untenable account of color. The remainder of his argument aims to answer the question of what the metaphysical relation is between the state of an experiencing subject that we take color to be and the colorless microphysical particles that we take to constitute that subject. After rejecting Substance Dualism, Epiphenomenalism, and Wholistic or Emergent Materialism as explanatorily inadequate, Sellars proposes that both color-states and micro-physical particles should be understood as manifestations of an underlying ontology on absolute processes.

Author's Profile

David Landy
San Francisco State University

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