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Articulating the World

Conceptual Understanding and the Scientific Image

Articulating the World

Conceptual Understanding and the Scientific Image

Naturalism as a guiding philosophy for modern science both disavows any appeal to the supernatural or anything else transcendent to nature, and repudiates any philosophical or religious authority over the workings and conclusions of the sciences. A longstanding paradox within naturalism, however, has been the status of scientific knowledge itself, which seems, at first glance, to be something that transcends and is therefore impossible to conceptualize within scientific naturalism itself.
In Articulating the World, Joseph Rouse argues that the most pressing challenge for advocates of naturalism today is precisely this: to understand how to make sense of a scientific conception of nature as itself part of nature, scientifically understood. Drawing upon recent developments in evolutionary biology and the philosophy of science, Rouse defends naturalism in response to this challenge by revising both how we understand our scientific conception of the world and how we situate ourselves within it.

416 pages | 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2015

Biological Sciences: Evolutionary Biology

Language and Linguistics: Philosophy of Language

Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy of Science

Physical Sciences: History and Philosophy of Physical Sciences


"Rouse has written a wide-ranging, systematic attempt to give an account of naturalism and to solve some of the problems confronting it. He gives many of the basic concepts that are often employed in articulating naturalism a novel twist, one that breaks ground for research at new levels. Articulating the World will have a central place in debates about naturalism that will surely follow from the many important theses he advances."

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Thought-provoking – it opens new vistas on problems we thought we had already seen through."

Organon F

"With Articulating the World, Rouse has written a book that is, characteristically, at once creative, synthetic, erudite, and deep. Rouse breaks down all barriers between the biological materiality and the discursivity of social selves. His picture of conceptual understanding as ecological niche construction will generate a new and invigorating philosophical research program."

Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown University

"Articulating the World is a work of synthesis that few authors could attempt, much less carry through. In extending and correcting avenues of inquiry opened up by the late John Haugeland, Rouse has produced a systematic and comprehensive work that that is very much Rouse's own. A work of ambition and extraordinary range, Rouse's book makes a significant contribution to the revival of Pragmatism in philosophy today."

Michael Williams, Johns Hopkins University

"Rouse's Articulating the World is a profound, important, and systematic work. It centers on the question of how to understand knowledge of a natural world as itself a part of that world, but he approaches this not from the point of view of a reductionist, the eliminativist, or any of the other standard approaches. Rather Rouse subtly mobilizes recent ideas in evolutionary biology to revise the received understanding of the social/biological distinction, of normativity, and of intentionality. Drawing on themes in Heidegger, Haugeland, and a range of other philosophers, Rouse has done something special: he has produced a genuinely new conception of our place in a natural world."

Mark Lance, Georgetown University

Table of Contents


1 Naturalism and the Scientific Image

Part One Conceptual Understanding as Discursive Niche Construction

2 What Is Conceptual Understanding?
3 Conceptual Understanding in Light of Evolution
4 Language, Social Practice, and Conceptual Normativity
5 Two Concepts of Objectivity

Part Two Conceptual Articulation in Scientific Practice

6 Scientific Practice and the Scientific Image
7 Experimental Practice and Conceptual Understanding
8 Laws and Modalities in Scientific Practice
9 Laboratory Fictions and the Opening of Scientific Domains
10 Scientific Significance


11 Naturalism Articulated

Epilogue Naturalism and the Contingency of the Space of Reasons


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