Making It Explicit

Making It Explicit : Reasoning, Representing, and Discursive Commitment

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What would something unlike us--a chimpanzee, say, or a computer--have to be able to do to qualify as a possible knower, like us? To answer this question at the very heart of our sense of ourselves, philosophers have long focused on intentionality and have looked to language as a key to this condition. Making It Explicit is an investigation into the nature of language--the social practices that distinguish us as rational, logical creatures--that revises the very terms of this inquiry. Where accounts of the relation between language and mind have traditionally rested on the concept of representation, this book sets out an alternate approach based on inference, and on a conception of certain kinds of implicit assessment that become explicit in language. Making It Explicit is the first attempt to work out in detail a theory that renders linguistic meaning in terms of use--in short, to explain how semantic content can be conferred on expressions and attitudes that are suitably caught up in social practices.

At the center of this enterprise is a notion of discursive commitment. Being able to talk--and so in the fullest sense being able to think--is a matter of mastering the practices that govern such commitments, being able to keep track of one's own commitments and those of others. Assessing the pragmatic significance of speech acts is a matter of explaining the explicit in terms of the implicit. As he traces the inferential structure of the social practices within which things can be made conceptually explicit, the author defines the distinctively expressive role of logical vocabulary. This expressive account of language, mind, and logic is, finally, an account of who we are.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 768 pages
  • 162 x 235 x 38.1mm | 998g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • None
  • 0674543300
  • 9780674543300
  • 214,265

Back cover copy

Making it Explicit is an investigation into the nature of language - the social practices that distinguish us as rational, logical creatures - that revises the very terms of this inquiry. Where accounts of the relation between language and mind have traditionally rested on the concept of representation, this book sets out an alternate approach based on inference, and on a conception of certain kinds of implicit assessment that become explicit in language. Making It Explicit is the first attempt to work out in detail a theory that renders linguistic meaning in terms of use - in short, to explain how semantic content can be conferred on expressions and attitudes that are suitably caught up in social practices.
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Table of contents

Preface PART ONE Toward a Normative Pragmatics Introduction From Intentional State to Normative Status From Norms Explicit in Rules to Norms Implicit in Practices From Normative Status to Normative Attitude From Assessment to the Social Institution of Norms From Intentional Interpretation to Original Intentionality Appendix: Wittgenstein's Use of Regel Toward an Inferential Semantics Content and Representation The Priority of the Propositional Conceptual Classification and Inference Material Inference, Conceptual Content, and Expression Circumstances and Consequences of Application Conclusion Linguistic Practice and Discursive Commitment Intentional States and Linguistic Practices Deontic Status and Deontic Attitudes Asserting and Inferring Scorekeeping: Pragmatic Significance and Semantic Content Perception and Action: The Conferral of Empirical and Practical Conceptual Content Assertions as Knowledge Claims Reliability Observation Reports and Noninferential Authority Rational Agency Practical Reasoning: Inferences from Doxastic to Practical Commitments Intentions PART TWO The Expressive Role of Traditional Semantic Vocabulary: 'True' and 'Refers' From Inference to Truth, Reference, and Representation Truth in Classical Pragmatism From Pragmatism to Prosentences Reference and Anaphorically Indirect Descriptions The Function of Traditional Semantic Vocabulary Is Expressive, Not Explanatory Substitution: What Are Singular Terms, and Why Are There Any? Multivalued Logic and Material Inference Substitution, Sentential Embedding, and Semantic Roles Subsentential Expressions What Are Singular Terms? Why Are There Singular Terms? Objections and Replies Conclusion Appendix: From Substitutional Derivation of Categories to Functional Derivation of Categories Appendix: Sentence Use Conferring the Status of Singular Terms on Subsentential Expressions--An Application Anaphora: The Structure of Token Repeatables Frege's Grundlagen Account of Picking Out Objects Definite Descriptions and Existential Commitments Substitution, Token Recurrence, and Anaphora Deixis and Anaphora Interpersonal Anaphora and Communication Appendix: Other Kinds of Anaphora--Paychecks, Donkeys, and Quantificational Antecedents Ascribing Propositional Attitudes: The Social Route from Reasoning to Representing Representation and De Re Ascription of Propositionally Contentful Commitments Interpretation, Communication, and De Re Ascriptions De Re Ascriptions and the Intentional Explanation of Action From Implicit Attribution to Explicit Ascription Epistemically Strong De Re Attitudes: Indexicals, Quasi-Indexicals, and Proper Names The Social-Perspectival Character of Conceptual Contents and the Objectivity of Conceptual Norms Appendix: The Construction and Recursive Interpretation of Iterated Ascriptions That Mix De Dicto and De Re Content Specifications Conclusion Two Concepts of Concepts Norms and Practices We Have Met the Norms, and They Are Ours Abbreviations Notes Index
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Review quote

Making It Explicit has already developed a justified reputation as a major contribution to the philosophy of language. It takes the traditional ill-fitting story of the relationship between language and the world and turns it upside down. Instead of starting with the existence of the world and explaining what it is for language to represent the world, it starts with language and explains what it is for the world to be represented by language...With tremendous panache, he launches into accounts of normativity, inference, meaning, truth, reference and objectivity, trying to show that the later concepts in that list are made intelligible by the earlier. -- Rowland Stout Times Literary Supplement Making It Explicit is a landmark in theoretical philosophy comparable to that constituted in the early seventies by A Theory of Justice in practical philosophy...Drawing upon the resources furnished by his intricate theory of language, Brandom succeeds in offering a thoroughly convincing description of the practices within which beings capable of language and action express their rationality and autonomy. -- Jurgen Habermas Wahrheit und Rechtfertigung Robert Brandom's magnificent book is an attempt to rework the whole of the philosophy of language in terms of normative, socially articulated pragmatics. His approach, inferentialism, which he traces through Kant and Frege to Wittgenstein and Sellars, is opposed to a more standard approach, representationalism...Making It Explicit is written with an exhilarating argumentative relish and tremendous assurance and thoroughness. -- Rowland Stout Mind Robert Brandom's Making it Explicit is an unusual book on the Anglo-American scene...What Brandom achieves is a convincing elaboration of the view of intentionality as a linguistic, normative and social-pragmatic affair...Brandom's book is the first detailed elaboration of the position that it is normative attitudes which distinguishes us, insofar as we are thinking and acting beings, from the physical. It will hopefully contribute to giving that position the attention it deserves in contemporary philosophy of mind. -- Michael Epsfield Erkenntnis 19990101
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About Robert B. Brandom

Robert B. Brandom is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy. Numerous books have been written about him, including Jeremy Wanderer's Robert Brandom, Ronald Loeffler's Brandom, and Chauncey Maher's The Pittsburgh School of Philosophy: Sellars, McDowell, Brandom. He delivered the John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford and the Woodbridge Lectures at Columbia University. Brandom is the author of many books, including Making It Explicit, Reason in Philosophy, and From Empiricism to Expressivism.
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Rating details

72 ratings
4.33 out of 5 stars
5 54% (39)
4 31% (22)
3 11% (8)
2 3% (2)
1 1% (1)
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