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Title: The Modal Bond of Analytic Pragmatism
Authors: Santoro, Daniele
Keywords: BrandomPragmatismModal concepts
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Daniele Santoro, "The Modal Bond of Analytic Pragmatism", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, XI (2009) 1, pp. 385-411.
Series/Report no.: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
XI (2009) 1
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.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1825-5167
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2009) XI/1

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