Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 35–53

Bootstrapping Normativity

Research Article


We compare the role of Cartesian assumptions in the symbol grounding problem and in the Myth of the Given: We argue that the Sellars–McDowell critique of the Myth of the Given and, in particular, its use of the concept of normativity can provide useful resources for responding to the symbol grounding problem. We also describe the concepts of normativity at work in computer science and cognitive science: We argue that normative concepts are pervasive in the sciences and that, in particular, McDowell’s dichotomy between the normative space of reasons and the realm of nature is somewhat problematic.


Symbol grounding problem Mental symbols Normativity Cartesianism Mental representation Spontaneity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen MaryUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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