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Steven Levine

I have seen McDowell in several conference settings, and he is the most unbending and precise respondent I have witnessed. There is no: 'I see your point, but I would put it this way', or' I had not considered that', etc. It is impressive, though a more open and exploratory attitude would make question and answer more interesting and, dare I say it, fun.

Michael Kremer

What is here called a "link to my question" is a link to my attempt to dimly recall a question I asked more than 20 years ago! I certainly wouldn't swear by that recollection.

Daniel Mark Lindquist

I think one of the most common mistakes about "Mind and World" is taking "bald naturalism" as McDowell's "target". He's not arguing against bald naturalism in that book. As he says in the preface to the book, he wrote it after rereading Rorty's "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature"; the book is an attempt to improve on Rorty/Davidson by showing a way to reject the "Myth of the Given" without falling into the sort of Rortyan coherentism that makes the Myth (and bald naturalism) understandable as counter-reactions. McDowell's imagined reader isn't going to go in for bald naturalism anymore than they're going to try to insist that, really, The Given isn't a myth. Evans comes in for extended criticism because McDowell thinks he didn't provide an adequate way to reject the Myth (and so falls back into it); Kant plays the same dialectical role. All of his interlocutors are trying to get off of the Myth/"frictionless coherentism" see-saw and failing; bald naturalism doesn't think there is a see-saw, so it's not part of the conversation.

Eric Schliesser

Hi Daniel,
What you say is true on a rather narrow (and strange) understanding of the use of 'attack.'
As it happens, McDowell is explicit that he wishes to offer an alternative to bald naturalism (which is treated as a potential competitor in certain respects). And he explicitly sees himself as undercutting the motives to pursue bald naturalism. He says so in the precis of Mind and World in Philosophical Perspectives of 1996.
Or to put it in your terms, to be sidelined from the conversation, to be thought lacking standing, certainly will feel as a kind of attack.

Jesse M.

Out of curiosity, can anyone summarize what "bald naturalism" means in this context? Reading Richard Bernstein's sympathetic critique of Mind and World at https://www.jstor.org/stable/3130496 I got the impression that it meant something like the "reductionist" idea that all physical behaviors, including human actions like speech, are in principle derivable from fundamental physics, even if this reduction would not necessarily be practical or conceptually illuminating or otherwise useful. For example, on p. 63 Bernstein writes 'I am no more sympathetic than McDowell is with what he calls “bald naturalism”—especially in its more reductionistic, physicalistic, and scientistic varieties'. But Daniel suggests above that bald naturalism is connected in some way to the Myth of the Given (even though someone like Quine, who advocates coherentism rather than any fundamental 'givens', would see this sort of in-principle physical reductionism as likely true--Bernstein refers on p. 68 to the 'dogma among many post-Quinian naturalists' that 'the only viable naturalism acceptable today is some form of reductionist and physicalist naturalism'), and Eric included Dennett as one who may be a "dogmatic naturalist" but is not a "bald naturalist" (Dennett does seem to accept in-principle reductionism since in Freedom Evolves he uses a simple cellular automata program, 'Conway's Game of Life', as an analogy for how various kinds of 'macro' behaviors can emerge from low-level laws). Also, if bald naturalism can't be equated with this form of reductionism, does that imply McDowell does not necessarily dismiss this sort of reductionism, or is it more that "bald naturalism" includes physical reductionism but adds some other supplementary assumptions that not even all reductionists would agree with? (for example, David Chalmers accepts physical reductionism about behavior but thinks there is an additional philosophical problem about subjective experience, would that disqualify him as a bald naturalist?)

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