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Title: Concept, Norm, and Nature Three Strategies for Breaking with the Dilemma of Underdetermination and Dualism
Author: Lindgaard, Jakob
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2007
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The aim of this thesis is to break with the dilemma of underdetermination and dualism I claim haunts attempts to give an account of the relation between concept, norm, and nature. I investigate what it takes to get out of the dilemma's grip, dissolve it, or otherwise display it as a false alternative. In particular, I consider what I have found to be the three most promising strategies for doing so. There are two points of entry into thinking about the dilemma. One is a conflict between two general intuitions that seem to guide most contemporary approaches in this field, what I have labelled the orthodox· naturalist and the normativist intuitions. I outline this conflict in the Introduction. The second point of entry is the role the dilemma plays as the premise responsible for what seems to be a permanent inability to give an account of conceptual normativity. In Chapter One, I introduce two models for thinking about conceptual normativity, the 'intentionality' model, and the 'correct use' model. On each model, I claim, a set of equally unpalatable and reciprocally parasitic alternatives seem to exhaust our analytical options. The dilemma, I assume towards the end of Chapter One, is the premise responsible for this predicament. I also assume that the dilemma is inevitable on its own grounds. What this means is that I shall not discuss orthodox naturalist or normativist attempts to embrace what I take to be one of the horns of the dilemma. Rather, I consider what I take to be the three most promising strategies for breaking with the dilemma, the 'also continuities' strategy, the 'semantic ascent' strategy, and the 'premises in question' strategy. I consider these strategies primarily as they can be found in, or arise out of, the works of Robert B. Brandom and John McDowell. The 'also continuities' strategy consists of two moves. The idea is that there are arguments to the effect that norm or the so-called 'space of reasons' [SOR] must be distinguished sharply from nature or the 'realm of law' [ROL], but that this is compatible with the idea that there are also continuities. These continuities are made available, on this strategy, through the ideas of 'emergence', 'supervenience', and 'interdependence'. For all its merits, I argue that this strategy founders on a property-dualism, a residual version of the dualism-horn ofthe dilemma. I consider this strategy in Chapter Two. The 'semantic ascent' strategy pivots on a strong distinction between conceptual and ontological commitments. To distinguish norm from nature, or the SOR from the ROL, is not to distinguish between different things, properties, or relations. Rather, it is to distinguish between different ways we can talk about (the same?) things, different orders of intelligibility, modes of presentation, stances, or attitudes we can adopt in relation to things. This strategy operates at one remove from a commitment to how things are. For all its merits, I argue that this strategy in the present context founders on a schemecontent dualism. I discuss it in Chapter Three. This leaves the 'premises in question' strategy. The gist of this strategy is to put in question the premises orthodox naturalists and normativists perhaps surprisingly seem to share. In Chapter Four, I consider the versions of this strategy as they can be found in Brandom and McDowell. I find especially in some of the things McDowell says material to break with the dilemma. But I finish Chapter Four with arguments to the effect that both Brandom's and McDowell's versions of this strategy must be found wanting. The reason they must be found wanting, I claim, is that they seem to want to hold onto a key premise that their own considerations bring into focus as the culprit, a surprisingly persistent vertically oriented bi-polar imagery with normativity or the SOR above some imagined 'bar' or 'line' and nature or the 'ROL' below. In Chapter Five, I revisit the 'premises in question' strategy. I begin with some methodological considerations it introduces and proceed with a critical scrutiny of three of the most central concepts of the thesis, the concepts of 'dispositions', of 'causality', and of 'normative conceptual capacities'. I argue that these concepts can be categorized unequivocally in neither SOR nor ROL terms, and find material here to bring into view the possibility of breaking with the culprit imagery, and thereby, in turn, with the dilemma. The upshot is the availability of material for a non-reductionist monism with no mysterious gaps. I finish with the suggestion that it is incumbent upon candidate opponents to either solve or break with the dilemma that haunts attempts to give an account of the relation between concept, norm, and nature. Supplied by The British Library - 'The world's knowledge'
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: University of Warwick, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available