Between Saying and Doing – Lectures, Audio+Video, Reviews, Related Articles, Books etc.

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Brandom’s 2006 John Locke Lectures – Between Saying and Doing: Towards an Analytic Pragmatism

.pdf files (lectures and handouts) from University of Oxford’s John Locke Lectures page.

.doc files (from Brandom’s page)

Audio + Video

Prague John Locke Lectures. 28 – 30 April, 2007. Prague, Czech Republic, Hotel Ambassador Conference Centre. Each lecture is followed by an invited commentary and audience discussion. Commentators: John McDowell (Pittsburgh), John MacFarlane (Berkeley), Jaroslav Peregrin (Prague), Huw Price (Sydney), Sebastian Rödl (Basel), Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer (Leipzig).

.m4a files (audio files from Prague Locke Lectures with comments and Q&A)

.mov files (video files from Prague Locke Lectures with comments and Q&A; media on Robert      Brandom’s home page)

Towards an Analytic Pragmatism, Workshop on the Recent Philosophy of Language of Robert B. Brandom, University of Genoa, Italy, April 19-23, 2009. [talks By Bob Brandom and discussions plus interview on pragmatism and philosophy of language]

Somewhat related: Workshop with Bob Brandom. University of Sydney on 14 October 2005.


Reviews of BSD


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What is analytic pragmatism (AP)?

Here’s a very short presentation, one that tries to resume how Robert Brandom sees AP (analytic pragmatism).

AP was first stated in Brandom’s 2006 John Locke Lectures: Between Saying and Doing – Towards an Analytic Pragmatism (published as a book [Between Saying and Doing – Towards an Analytic Pragmatism] in 2008; same content as the Lectures plus a Preface and a substantial and illuminating Afterword).

According to Brandom, analytic pragmatism came to light while he was trying to understand what he was doing in his first big philosophy of language project (see his 1994 Making it Explicit), when he mapped the relations between (normative) pragmatics and (inferentialist) semantics. It turned out that making explicit what was he doing in Making it Explicit needed a special (meta)vocabulary. The research project of understanding (algebraically) the logic of the relations between meaning and use in terms of a rigorous metaconceptual apparatus is what Brandom coined “analytic pragmatism”.

The goal is to extend in a pragmatist fashion the classical analytic project. Alternatively, AP is “pragmatism pursued in an analytical spirit” (BSD, xii). “Pragmatism” means here a Wittgensteinian way of thinking of language/meaning that focuses on use for explaining meaning. On the other hand, american pragmatists like Sellars and Quine play a big part in the dialectic of AP because of their critic (along Wittgenstein) of some key classic analytic ideas about what philosophy is meant to be. “Classical analytic project” means understanding philosophical understanding in a special way: reformulating problematic philosophical statements in a epistemologically, ontologically or semantically privileged vocabulary. So there are two vocabularies, one problematic (mathematical, intentional, normative modal etc.), one ok (e.g. logical, phenomenal, observational, naturalist etc.), a semantical relation between vocabularies (definition, translation, reduction, supervenience etc.), and a set of tools (always logical tools) for (re)constructing the meanings of the problematic vocabulary starting the meanings of the privileged vocabulary.

Brandom’s project is to extend this project as to integrate the pragmatist critiques by focusing not only on semantic relations between vocabularies (VV relation), but also on pragmatic relations between practices-or-abilities (PP relations) and meaning-use relations between practices and vocabularies (VP and PV relations). Composing these basic relations we get complex ones: one vocabulary being a pragmatic metavocabulary for another, the relation of semantic  presupposition, the relation of one vocabulary being universally LX etc. Pragmatically mediated semantic relations are the new kids on the block.

A second important modification of the project is the rejection of the analytical metaphysical claim that a certain vocabulary should be privileged philosophically from a certain point of view, such that all that can’t be said in that one vocabulary is either unintelligible, or non-existing, or epistemologically deficient. Brandom’s twist is to adopt a methodological pluralism that gives up the ambition to find the vocabulary that let’s us say all there is to say (a universal semantic vocabulary). The new picture is to go for a different kind of philosophical understanding, where we just want too see what are the relations between different vocabularies and their underlying practices. Doing that we get remarkable results concerning the relations between logical, intentional, normative and modal vocabularies that justifies the claim that these vocabularies have a kind of indexical dimension: understanding what their significance is needs understanding their relations with other vocabularies.

In his arguments for AP, Brandom is using his Making it explicit-normative pragmatics and its inferentialist semantics, but this is not essential for AP. Brandom tries do develop a metavocabulary for speaking about the relations between meaning and use, irrespectively of how use is pragmatically conceived, i.e. how we choose to speak about use (in an inferentialist fashion, a Davidsonian, a Lewisian way etc.).

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