Philosophical Papers 35 (2):137-170 (2006)

Janice Dowell
Syracuse University
This paper begins by isolating the reductive component of Brandom's inferentialism. In order to assess to what extent that reductive component is supported by the considerations Brandom marshals in its defense, I assess the comparative degree of support those considerations provide a non-reductive counterpart of Brandom's original, reductive theory. One of the central claims here is that once the reductive and non-reductive theories are placed side-by-side, it is clear that, save one, all of the considerations Brandom marshals in defense of inferentialism equally well support its non-reductive counterpart. This shows that those considerations offer no support for the reductions at inferentialism's heart. What the considerations raised here ultimately show is that Brandom's defense of the reductive core of his theory ultimately rests on the simple fact that it has a certain feature, namely, that it is reductive in the sense reserved here. I close with a brief discussion of some advantages that some reductive theories have over non-reductive ones, but show how none of these advantages are had by Brandom's theory in particular.
Keywords Inferentialism  Language  Performance  Pragmatics  Reduction  Brandom, Robert B
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DOI 10.1080/05568640609485176
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