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Logical expressivism, logical theory and the critique of inferences

  • Georg Brun


The basic idea of logical expressivism in the Brandomian tradition is that logic makes inferential relations explicit and thereby accessible to critical discussion. But expressivists have not given a convincing explanation of what the point of logical theories is. Peregrin provides a starting point by observing a distinction between making explicit and explication in Carnap’s sense of replacing something unclear and vague by something clear and exact. Whereas logical locutions make inferential relations explicit within a language, logical theories use formal languages to explicate inferential roles and meanings of ordinary-language expressions. But Peregrin also holds that the whole point of logical theories is to provide perspicuous models of inferential structures in ordinary language practice. This turns explication into a mere continuation of making explicit by other means, and it leads to a one-sided conception of logic which has no room for evaluating inferential practice in light of logical theories. As a more convincing alternative, I suggest that expressivists rely on the method of reflective equilibrium. This approach is closely related to Carnapian explication, but it has the potential of correcting informal inferential practice without dubious ambitions to replace ordinary languages by logical formalisms.


Explication Expressivism Inferentialism Reflective equilibrium 



For helpful comments on earlier versions, I am grateful to Dominique Kuenzle, Jaroslav Peregrin and Christine Tiefensee. This paper is part of the project “Reflective Equilibrium—Reconception and Application”, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Project 150251).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for PhilosophyUniversity of BernBern 9Switzerland

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