Does language have a downtown? Wittgenstein, Brandom, and the game of “giving and asking for reasons”

Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 8 (9):1-22 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Wittgenstein’s Investigations proposed an egalitarian view about language games, emphasizing their plurality (“language has no downtown”). Uses of words depend on the game one is playing, and may change when playing another. Furthermore, there is no privileged game dictating the rules for the others: games are as many as purposes. This view is pluralist and egalitarian, but it says little about the connection between meaning and use, and about how a set of rules is responsible for them in practice. Brandom’s Making It Explicit attempted a straightforward answer to these questions, by developing Wittgensteinian insights: the primacy of social practice over meanings; the idea that meaning is use; the idea of rule–following to understand participation in social practices. Nonetheless, Brandom defended a non–Wittgensteinian conception of discursive practice: language has a “downtown”, the game of “giving and asking for reasons”. This is the idea of a normative structure of language, consisting of advancing claims and drawing inferences. By means of assertions, speakers undertake “commitments” that can be challenged/defended in terms of reasons (those successfully justified can gain “entitlement”). This game is not one among many: it is indispensable to the very idea of discursive practice. In this paper, my aim will be that of exploring the main motivations and implications of both perspectives.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Inferenzialismo, pratiche argomentative e oggettività.Pietro Salis - 2012 - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio 6 (3):108-20.
Wittgenstein's Language‐games.Max Black - 1979 - Dialectica 33 (3‐4):337-353.
4 Playing well.David Egan - 2013 - In Emily Ryall (ed.), The philosophy of play. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. pp. 54.
Can One Grasp Propostions Without Knowing a Language?John-Michael Kuczynski - 2005 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 24 (2).
Communication, Language and Autonomy.Raffaela Giovagnoli - 2009 - Etica E Politica 11 (1):260-270.
Wittgenstein's Concept of a Language-Game.Ronald Frank Bienert - 1996 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
"Let us imagine...": Wittgenstein's Invitation to Philosophy.Beth Savickey - 2015 - Nordic Wittgenstein Review 4 (2):98-115.
Wittgenstein. Playing on the Edges of Language.Francesco Valagussa - 2013 - Aisthesis: Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi Dell’Estetico 6 (1):291-305.
Normative Pragmatism, Interpretationism, and Discursive Recognition.Joshua Wretzel - 2017 - Journal of Philosophical Research 42:379-398.
Language‐Games.Jaakko Hintikka - 1977 - Dialectica 31 (3‐4):225-245.


Added to PP

582 (#29,221)

6 months
147 (#20,862)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Pietro Salis
Universita di Cagliari

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Making it Explicit.Isaac Levi & Robert B. Brandom - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):145.
Inference and meaning.Wilfrid Sellars - 1953 - Mind 62 (247):313-338.
Naturalism without representationalism.Huw Price - 2004 - In Mario De Caro & David Macarthur (eds.), Naturalism in Question. Harvard University Press. pp. 71--88.

View all 11 references / Add more references