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The Behaviourist Foundation of Sellars' Semantics*

  • Ausonio Marras (a1)


It is well known that Sellars' account of linguistic meaning is closely linked to a framework of Rylean-behaviouristic concepts. It is far from clear, however, what the nature of this relation exactly is. Some (e.g., Chisholm, [2], 523) have construed this relation as conceptually so tight as to commit Sellars to logical behaviourism about meaning: semantical statements would be shorthand ways of talking about overt verbal and nonverbal behaviour and behavioural dispositions. On the other hand, some (e.g., J. Young, [18]), have construed the relation so loosely as to deny that the behaviouristic framework can possibly provide a conceptually adequate basis for understanding semantical discourse.



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1Bandura, A., Principles of Behavior Modification (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969).
2The Chisholm-Sellars Correspondence on Intentionality, in Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. II, edited by Feigl, H. and others (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958).
3Dulany, D.E., “Awareness, Rules, and Propositional Controls: A Confrontation with S-R Behavior Theory”, in Horton, D. and Dixon, T., Editors, Verbal Behavior and S-R Behavior Theory (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1967).
4Horton, D.L. & Turnage, T.W., Human Learning (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1976).
5Marras, A., “Sellars on Thought and Language”, Nous 7 (1973), 152–63.
6Marras, A., “On Sellars' Linguistic Theory of Conceptual Activity”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 2(1973), 471–83.
7Marras, A., “Sellars' Behaviorism: A Reply to Fred Wilson” Philosophical Studies, forthcoming.
8Osgood, C.E., “Behavior Theory and the Social Sciences”, in Jakoborits, L.A. and Miron, M.S., Editors, Readings in the Psychology of Language (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1967).
9Sellars, W., “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”, in Sellars, W., Science, Perception and Reality (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963).
10Sellars, W., “The Language of Theories”, in Science, Perception and Reality
11Sellars, W., “Notes on Intentionality”, Journal of Philosophy 61 (1964), 655–65.
12Sellars, W., “Empiricism and Abstract Entities”, in Schilpp, P.A., Editor, The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1963).
13Sellars, W., “The Identity Approach to the Mind-Body Problem” in O'Connor, J., Editor, Modern Materialism: Readings on Mind-Body Identity (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969).
14Sellars, W., Science and Metaphysics (New York: Humanities Press, 1968).
15Sellars, W., “Meaning as Functional Classification”, Synthese 27 (1974), 417–34.
16Spielberger, C.D., “Theoretical and Epistemological Issues in Verbal Conditioning”, in Rosenberg, S., Editor, Directions in Psycholinguistics (New York: Macmillan, 1965).
17Wilson, F., “Marras on Sellars on Thought and LanguagePhilosophical Studies 28 (1975), 91102.
18Young, J., “Intentionality”, Review of Metaphysics 26 (1973), 696722.
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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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