Between Saying and Doing: Towards an Analytic Pragmatism

Analysis 69 (3):568-570 (2009)
Robert Brandom
University of Pittsburgh
Robert Brandom's latest book, the product of his John Locke lectures in Oxford in 2006, is a return to the philosophy of language and is easily read as a continuation and development of the views defended in Making it Explicit. The text of the lectures is presented much as they were delivered, but it contains an ‘Afterword’ of more than 30 pages which responds to questions raised when he gave the lectures, and also when they were subsequently delivered in Prague the following year. The published text also contains relatively technical appendices to two of the lectures.The individual lectures engage with some important and difficult issues, often ones that were explored in detail in the earlier book. However, these discussions are located within a broader meta-philosophical context, and it says something about the abstract and difficult character of these views that they provide the main subject matter of the Afterword. This framework affects how we should understand the relations between this book and Making It Explicit too. Although most of the detailed discussions happily belong within the general project of the earlier book, they are offered as illustrations of a framework that is independent of this project. Indeed, Brandom suggests that defenders of the semantic views of David Lewis, for example, could embrace his main message as well as those who favour Brandom's own form of pragmatism.Neo-pragmatist philosophers such as Brandom's teacher, Richard Rorty, often present themselves as rejecting the analytic tradition in philosophy. When Brandom describes the ‘pragmatist challenge’ to the ‘classical project of analysis’, he appeals to the criticisms found in the work of Wittgenstein and Sellars that are often appealed to by the critics of the analytic tradition. The message of the new book is that the views he has built on this …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp088
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