The Modal Bond of Analytic Pragmatism
In his recent John Locke Lectures, Robert Brandom defends a view of pragmatism as an extension of the classical project of semantic analysis powerful enough as to incorporate not only relations among meanings, but also, and more fundamentally, relations among meaning and use. The paper explores one of the core aspects of this project – the relation between modal, normative, and empirical vocabularies. Brandom’ focus on a general semantics for non-logical vocabularies intends to meet and answer the empiricist concerns about the intelligibility of modal concepts, which are themselves couched in a modal metavocabulary. Brandom’s purpose is to show that, in using ordinary empirical vocabulary, «in order to be able to talk at all, to make claims and inferences, one must already know how to do everything necessary in principle to deploy modal and normative vocabulary». This is the so-called «Kant-Sellars thesis». In the first part, I present the general framework of analytic pragmatism, the rationale for that project, and its normative foundation. Although the project is in continuity with the goal, pursued in Making It Explicit, of explaining inferential semantics in terms of a normative pragmatics, more structure is added, which clarifies the foundation of the overall enterprise. In the second part, I focus on some objections to the complementary structure of normative and modal vocabularies, and defend a different interpretation of its foundational structure. The goal is to show the modal vocabulary underlies the conceivability and the very inferential practices in which normative vocabulary is involved.
Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
XI (2009) 1
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Daniele Santoro, "The Modal Bond of Analytic Pragmatism", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, XI (2009) 1, pp. 385-411.