Sellars' Exam Question Trilemma - Are Kant's Premises Analytic, or Synthetic A Priori, or A Posterior

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Abstract
ABSTRACT Wilfrid Sellars argued that Kant’s account of the conceptual structures involved in experience can be given a linguistic turn so as to provide an analytic account of the resources a language must have in order to be the bearer of empirical knowledge. In this paper I examine the methodological aspects of Kant’s transcendental philosophy that Sellars took to be fundamental to influential themes in his own philosophy. My first aim here is to clarify and argue for the plausibility of what I claim is Sellars’ interpretation of Kant’s ‘analytic’ transcendental method in the first Critique, based ultimately on non-trivial analytic truths concerning the concept of an object of our possible experience. Kant’s ‘transcendental proofs’ thereby avoid a certain methodological trilemma confronting the candidate premises of any such proof, taken from Sellars’ 1970s undergraduate exam question on Kant. In part II of the essay I conclude by highlighting in general terms how Kant’s method, as interpreted in the analytic manner explained in part I, was adapted by Sellars to produce some of the more influential aspects of his own philosophy, expressed in terms of what he contends is their sustainable reformulation in light of the so-called linguistic turn in twentieth-century philosophy.
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Archival date: 2020-07-13
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2020-07-13

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