Just What is the Relation between the Manifest and the Scientific Images?
Willem A. deVries
International Journal of Philosophical Studies
The last half of the (long) first chapter of Brandom's From Empiricism to Expressivism constitutes an extended argument against one half of Wilfrid Sellars's version of scientific realism. I say 'half ' of Sellarsian scientific realism because Brandom agrees with Sellars's anti-instrumentalism. The half Brandom takes issue with is Sellars's claim that the 'scientific image' [SI] -an idealized, complete scientific framework for the description and explanation of all natural events and objects
... ssesses such ontological priority over the 'manifest image' [MI] -itself an idealization of the 'commonsense' framework of persons and things in terms of which we currently experience ourselves and the worldthat it will come to replace the MI in all matters of explanation and description. Brandom's argument against this Sellarsian idea is rather roundabout. First, ABSTRACT Robert B. Brandom's From Empiricism to Expressivism ranges widely over fundamental issues in metaphysics, with occasional forays into epistemology as well. The centerpiece is what Brandom calls 'the Kant-Sellars thesis about modality' (and a related thesis about normativity). This is '[t]he claim that in being able to use ordinary empirical descriptive vocabulary, one already knows how to do everything that one needs to know how to do, in principle, to use alethic modal vocabulary -in particular subjunctive conditionals' (p. 26). (For the equivalent thesis about norms, simply substitute 'normative' for 'alethic modal' and drop the mention of subjunctives.) Despite claiming descent from Sellars, Brandom defends here a version of modal realism and tries hard to limit Sellarsian nominalism, all in the service of elaborating Brandom's own version of pragmatism. The range of issues Brandom addresses defies adequate consideration in a critical notice, so I confine myself here to a single issue: What is the relation between the Manifest and Scientific Images? Brandom is very critical of Sellars' treatment, but I do not think Brandom's criticisms carry the day.