Tag Archives: Making It Explicit

norms in the eye of the beholder

“On the broadly phenomenalist line about norms that will be defended here, norms are in an important sense in the eye of the beholder, so that one cannot address the question of what implicit norms are, independently of the question of what it is to acknowledge them in practice. The direction of explanation to be pursued here first offers an account of the practical attitude of taking something to be correct-according-to-a-practice, and then explains the status of being correct-according-to-a-practice by appeal to those attitudes.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.25)

de dicto ascriptions and de re ascriptions

De dicto ascriptions specify the content of the attributed commitment from the point of view provided by what the one to whom that commitment is attributed would, according to the attributor, acknowledge. De re ascriptions specify the content of that same commitment from the point of view provided by what the one attributing the commitment would acknowledge. These are two different sorts of ascription, two ways of specifying the content of a single commitment, not ascriptions of two different sorts of belief or commitment.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.584)

inferential articulation and social articulation

“For information (whether true of false) to be communicated is for the claims undertaken by one interlocutor to become available to others (who attribute them) as premises for inferences. Communication is the social production and consumption of reasons. So communication (giving and asking for reasons) involves the interaction of the inferential articulation of contents that is at the center of the semantics presented here and the social articulation of discursive commitments that is at the center of the pragmatics presented here. The nature and significance of this interaction of the inferential and the social dimensions of discursive practice is a large and important topic. . . . As a result, the contents of the claims that are deployed monologically in intrapersonal reasoning in soliloquy must be understood as having been conferred by public practices of deploying claims dialogically in interpersonal reasoning in conversation. Meditation is made possible by disputation.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.474)

ascriptional locutions

“The attribution of discursive commitments is an attitude that is implicit in deontic scorekeeping practices. It is something that scorekeepers do. The introduction of a sentential operator that functions as “S believes that . . .” or “S is committed to the claim that . . .” does in English makes it possible, not merely implicitly or in practice to take someone to be committed to a claim, but explicitly to say that someone is committed to a claim, and to which claim. The explicit is the claimable, what can be given as a reason and have reasons demanded for it; ascriptional locutions make implicit attributions explicit as the contents of claims.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.498)

anaphoric chains

“Anaphoric chains running through bits of discourse are not naturalistic features of them like which organism produces the tokening, or when or where it is produced. They are normative features attributed to the discourse by deontic scorekeepers, matters of conditional commitment or commitment inheritance—of the obligation that the significance assigned to, or score kept on, one part of the discourse answer in systematic ways to the significance assigned to, or score kept on, another.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.460)


“As Frege indicates in the Grundlagen, sortals are like predicates, except that they have not only criteria and consequences of application but (like singular terms) also criteria (and so consequences) of identity. For many purposes, ‘. . . is a dog’ functions predicatively, just as ‘. . . is large’ does. But if a is a dog and b is a dog, it makes sense to ask whether a is the same dog as b. Sortals have associated with them practices of identifying and individuating the things they apply to, as nonsortal predicates do not.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.437)

intentions and agent semantics

Intending to use an expression as a singular term is adopting a practical commitment to doing what is necessary to make it appropriate for oneself and others to adopt such a stance toward one’s performances. How to understand the scorkeeping attitudes such a stance consists in and the proprieties that govern adopting it are accordingly issues that must be addressed before such intentions can be made intelligible. That the order of explanation in this way dictates that semantic intentions not be appealed to as fundamental at this point is just one particular instance of the difference of explanatory strategy, insisted upon elsewhere, that divides the present approach from that of agent semantics.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.432, Note 46)

referring to an object

“A language cannot refer to an object in one way unless it can refer to it in two different ways. This constraint will seem paradoxical if referring to an object by using a singular term is thoughtlessly assimilated to such activities as using a car to reach the airport or using an arrow to shoot a deer: even if only one car or one arrow is available and impossible to reuse, what one is doing can still genuinely be driving to the airport or shooting the deer.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.425)


“Logic transforms semantic practices into principles. By providing the expressive tools permitting us to endorse in what we say what before we could endorse only in what we did, logic makes it possible for the development of the concepts by which we conceive our world and our plans (and so ourselves) to rise in part above the indistinct realm of mere tradition, of evolution according to the results of the thoughtless jostling of the habitual and the fortuitous, and enter the comparatively well-lit discursive marketplace, where reasons are sought and proffered, and every endorsement is liable to being put on the scales and found wanting.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, pp.402-403)

syntax and semantics

“Syntactic substitutional categories are defined by specifying which substitutions preserve sentencehood—where being a sentence is understood as having a pragmatic significance of its own, in that its freestanding utterance standardly counts as performing a basic speech act, paradigmatically making an assertion (overtly and explicitly acknowledging a doxastic commitment). Semantic substitutional contents can be defined by specifying which substitutions preserve the basic feature or features of sentences, in terms of which the pragmatic theory explains the properties of their use—namely the significance of the various speech acts they can be used to perform.” (Robert B. Brandom, Making It Explicit, p.370)