Another take on nature and normativity

Inspired by Giblets and Fafnir’s debate on October 16th on whether “sucking” reduces to the natural properties of the Yankees and Lindsay Beyerstein’s thoughts on the matter of naturalizing normative propositions, I thought I’d link to this review of Joseph Rouse’s How Scientific Practices Matter: Reclaiming Philosophical Naturalism. (via

Rouse. . . argues that the real problem isn’t the failure to show how the ontologically separate worlds of the normative and the natural interact, but the splitting of the two in the first place. According to Rouse, the split is indicative of a lingering Cartesian representationalism, and the only solution is to stop conceiving of the normative and the material as separate–the two are constitutive of each other. As he explains in one of those sentences that immediately call out for a sticky note: ‘The articulation of what we are accountable to is inseparable from the practical process of holding ourselves accountable to it.’ . . . What Rouse contributes to the debate is to argue the reverse point as well, viz., that the field of meaningful human activity is best construed as ‘intra-active’ with and constitutive of the natural world.

And he appears to try to defend the point through many challenges, Quinean indeterminacy, the sociology of science, science as convention and practice . . . you get the drift.