Contemporary philosophical idealism
Our discussion of idealism thus far has terminated in a survey of biology, which is only one of the sciences of nature we might have examined. e purpose of this focus on the natural sciences was twofold. First, we wanted to counter the more commonly accepted accounts of idealism – those we fi nd in our standard reference works on philosophy – which present it as having little or nothing to say with regard to the natural sciences in particular or to problems in the philosophy of nature in general. Second, of the two themes emerging from the idealism that dominates in contemporary philosophy, the issue of naturalism has become a focus of activity since McDowell’s infl uential Mind and World (1996) and the subsequent school of “Pittsburgh neoHegelianism” McDowell shares with Robert Brandom. It is a central theme of Brandom’s Making it Explicit (1994) that “reason” is not subject to the naturalization agenda favoured by empiricists precisely because it consists in an inherently normative set of practices (interrelated makings-explicit). A second of these emergent themes concerns the normative account of idealism, which motivates the Pittsburgh school’s critical concern with nature.