Title page for ETD etd-09192007-194730

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Garnar, Andrew Wells
URN etd-09192007-194730
Title "An essay concerning subjectivity and scientific realism: Some fancies on Sellarsian themes and onto-politics"
Degree PhD
Department Science and Technology Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Pitt, Joseph C. Committee Chair
Burian, Richard M. Committee Member
Fuhrman, Ellsworth R. Committee Member
Garrison, James W. Committee Member
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
  • Scientific Realism
  • Subjectivity
  • Pragmatism
  • Onto-politics
  • Wilfrid Sellars
Date of Defense 2007-09-09
Availability unrestricted
I develop a framework for making visible the impacts that science has on human subjectivity, along with demonstrating how these transformations support the existing social order. In order to develop this framework, I critique the work of Wilfrid Sellars. Sellars is one of the few analytic philosophers of science who directly addresses the connections between science and subjectivity. What makes Sellars particularly interesting is the way he sought to preserve a strong conception of normativity alongside a quasi-eliminativist scientific realism. I set the stage for my critique of Sellars by contrasting two different accounts of subjectivity, one Cartesian, the other pragmatic. I argue in favor of the pragmatic because it completely grounds the subject in the world (a point with which Sellars basically agrees). I begin my critique of Sellars by explaining his scientific realism. This is then connected to his vision of the interconnections between science and subjectivity. I then argue that Sellars’ scientific realism is fundamentally incoherent, which leads his system into nihilism. From this I trace out the role that science can play with respect to subjectivity in a nihilistic world. To partially counter this nihilism, I articulate an alternative to scientific realism that is based, in part, on my pragmatic account of subjectivity. I conclude by re-appropriating elements of Sellars’ philosophy, routed through my alternative scientific realism, in order to complete the framework discussed above.
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