David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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One of the recent trends in the philosophy of language and theory of meaning is the inferentialist project launched by Robert Brandom (1994, 2000, 2008), elaborating on the approach of Wilfrid Sellars (1953, 1954, 1956, 1974). According to this project, language is to be seen as essentially a rule-governed activity, providing for meaningful utterances in a way analogous to the way in which the rules of chess provide for making one's pawns, bishops or rooks attack one's opponent, checking his king or castling (see Peregrin, 2008). Inferentialism is also a theory of the nature of human reason and consequently of the nature of man, hence an ambitious project. Independently of how realistic these ambitions are, it is of a profound interest that many of the ideas of contemporary general semantic inferentialism were already tabled and discussed within the philosophy of law. Some of them were used to account for the semantics of legal discourse just like they are now used to account for discourse more generally and hence their current employment can be seen as mere generalization; others were submitted to illustrate the fact that legal discourse is specific rather than continuous with the ordinary one. In this paper we would like to survey two such discussions; before presenting the example of the former kind, we will mention one of the latter kind. We will try to show how the legal theorists anticipated current discussions in the field of the philosophy of language and that given the current constellation of the debate, philosophy of language may learn many things from the philosophy of law.
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