The Ethics of Wilfrid Sellars: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Ethics of Wilfrid Sellars

1st Edition

By Jeremy Randel Koons


360 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-11-30
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Wilfrid Sellars’s ethical theory was rich and deeply innovative. On Sellars’s view, moral judgments express a special kind of shared intention. Thus, we should see Sellars as an early advocate of an expressivism of plans and intentions, and an early theorist of collective intentionality. He supplemented this theory with a sophisticated logic of intentions, a robust theory of the categorical validity of normative expressions, a subtle way of reconciling the cognitive and motivating aspects of moral judgment, and much more—all within a strict nominalism that preserves Sellars’s commitment to naturalism. The Ethics of Wilfrid Sellars offers the first systematic treatment of this sadly-neglected aspect of Sellars’s work, and demonstrates that his ethical theory—just like his more widely-discussed epistemology—has much to contribute to current debates.


"Koons's work sets a new standard for work on Sellars by showing how to be deeply engaged with the details of his work, willing to correct him when necessary, and also addressing live current issues in contemporary philosophy."Carl B. Sachs in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Table of Contents

Introduction: Situating Sellars’s Ethical Theory in the Contemporary Landscape  

Chapter 1: Sellars’s Synoptic Vision

Chapter 2: A New Naturalism

Chapter 3: Moral Judgments as Shared Intentions

Chapter 4: What Are Sellarsian We-Intentions?

Chapter 5: Practical Reasoning and the Logic of Intentions

Chapter 6: Material Practical Inference

Chapter 7: Cooperative Rationality and We-Intentions

Chapter 8: Defeasible Rules and the Particularist Challenge

Chapter 9: Rules, Pattern-Governed Behavior, and Collective Attitudes

Chapter 10: Moral Motivation 1—Against the Humean Account

Chapter 11: Moral Motivation 2—Sellars’s Kantian Account

Chapter 12: Against Moral Foundationalism

Chapter 13: Categorical Validity and the Necessity of Community

Chapter 14: Sellars’s Mistaken Formalism

Chapter 15: Sellars’s Ethical Naturalism

About the Author

Jeremy Randel Koons is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He has published widely in epistemology, metaethics, philosophy of religion, and other areas. His most recent book, The Normative and the Natural (co-authored with Michael P. Wolf) appeared in 2016.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in American Philosophy

This series is dedicated to monographs and essay collections that examine, from diverse theoretical perspectives, any aspects of America’s rich web of philosophical traditions, from the 17th Century onwards. Frequently associated with pragmatism, particularly in the United States, American philosophy also encompasses many other schools of thought, and has had a significant impact on the development of contemporary epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and political philosophy. By publishing outstanding treatments of its many diverse threads, this series aims to become the default resource for scholars and students interested in a full picture of American philosophy.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy