Hicks on Sellars, Price, and the Myth of the Given / Review of work on Ayer

Volume 11.1 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access:


It features an article by Timm Triplett, entitled “Hicks on Sellars, Price, and the Myth of the Given.” Here is the abstract:

In a previous issue of this journal, Michael Hicks challenges my critique of Wilfrid Sellars’s arguments against the given and against the foundationalist epistemology that relies on the idea of a sensory given. I had argued that Sellars’s well-known claim that the given is a myth does not succeed because at a critical juncture he misconstrued sense-datum theorists such as Bertrand Russell and H. H. Price. In his response to my argument, Hicks makes the striking claim that Sellars was not targeting foundationalism at all in his discussion of the myth of the given. Hicks reconstructs a key argument in “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind” (EPM) in a way intended both to avoid any reference to foundationalism and to do a more effective job than does Sellars’s original argument in uncovering a dilemma for traditional empiricism. The present paper challenges Hicks on two fronts. First, it argues that Hicks’s reconstruction is not more successful than Sellars’s original argument. Second, a review of relevant passages in makes clear that the critique of foundationalism is a prominent aspect of Sellars’s multi-faceted attack on the given. The conclusion reasserts the significance of Sellars’s place in the history of twentieth-century analytic philosophy.

The volume also contains a review of The Historical and Philosophical Significance of Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic, edited by Adam Tamas Tuboly (Palgrave 2021), written by Joseph Bentley.

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!