Normativity with a Human Face: Placing Intentional Norms and Intentional Agents back in Nature
Link to publisher version (URL)
Many philosophers identify normativity as the distinctive mark of intentionality. Among them, John McDowell has underscored the need to overcome any form of dualism between reason and nature in order to properly account for the way in which such norms can be about the world around us, dubbing this project a "rehabilitation of empiricism." Steven Crowell argues that McDowell's notion of experience falls short in accounting for the way in which we can experience the world as normative and is hence insufficient for rehabilitating empiricism in McDowell's sense. In this chapter, we will contend that Crowell's attempt to provide a phenomenological account of intentionality goes quite far in the right direction but is nevertheless incomplete. If in fact Crowell succeeds in placing norms in nature through his phenomenological account of perceptual experience, he still shares with McDowell the idea that intentionality proper is to be identified with full-fledged normative contentful capacities. We argue that this commitment leads him to reject the possibility of accounting for the way in which intentional agents are themselves placed in nature. We will claim that placing intentional agents in nature is not only possible, but also necessary for bringing Crowell's and McDowell's respective projects of rehabilitating empiricism to completion. Finally, we sketch a strategy for successfully conducting this task.