Acta Analytica

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 3–22 | Cite as

Between primitivism and naturalism: Brandom’s theory of meaning

  • Daniel Whiting
Language And Mind

Abstract

Many philosophers accept that a naturalistic reduction of meaning is in principle impossible, since behavioural regularities or dispositions are consistent with any number of semantic descriptions. One response is to view meaning as primitive. In this paper, I explore Brandom’s alternative, which is to specify behaviour in non-semantic but normative terms. Against Brandom, I argue that a norm specified in non-semantic terms might correspond to any number of semantic norms. Thus, his theory of meaning suffers from the very same kind of problem as its naturalistic competitors. It is not sufficient, I contend, merely that some norms be introduced into one’s account but that they be specified using intensional, semantic notions on a par with that of meaning. In closing, I counter Brandom’s reasons for resisting such a position, the most significant of which is that it leaves philosophers with nothing constructive to say about meaning.

Keywords

Brandom inferentialism pragmatism semantics naturalism primitivism quietism 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Baker, G. P. and Hacker, P. M. S. 1984. Scepticism, Rules and Language. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  2. Boghossian, P. 1989. “The Rule Following Considerations.” Mind 93: 507–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. —— 2005. “Is Meaning Normative?” In Philosophy—Science—Scientific Philosophy, ed. A. Beckermann and C. Nimtz. Paderborn: Mentis.Google Scholar
  4. Brandom, R. B. 1994. Making it Explicit. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. —— 1997. “Replies.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57: 189–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. —— 2000. Articulating Reasons. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. —— 2001. “Meaning, Normativity, and Intentionality.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63: 587–609.Google Scholar
  8. —— 2002. Tales of the Mighty Dead. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Davidson, D. 2005. Truth, Language, and History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Glock, H-J. 2005. “The Normativity of Meaning Made Simple.” In Philosophy—Science—Scientific Philosophy, ed. A. Beckermann and C. Nimtz. Paderborn: Mentis.Google Scholar
  11. Hale, B. 1997. “Rule-Following, Objectivity and Meaning.” In A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, ed. B. Hale and C. Wright. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Hattiangadi, A. 2003. “Making it Implicit.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66: 419–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. —— 2006. “Is Meaning Normative?” Mind and Language 21: 220–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Horwich, P. 1998: Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. —— 2005. Reflections on Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Jackson, F. 1998. From Metaphysics to Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kripke, S. 1982. Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Laurier, D. 2005. “Pragmatics, Pittsburgh Style.” Pragmatics and Cognition 13: 141–160.Google Scholar
  19. Loewer, B. 1997. “A Guide to Naturalizing Semantics.” In A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, ed. B. Hale and C. Wright. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. McDowell, J. 1998. Mind, Value, and Reality. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. —— 2002. “How Not to Read Philosophical Investigations.” In Wittgenstein and the Future of Philosophy, ed. R. Haller and K. Puhl. Vienna: ÖBV & HPT.Google Scholar
  22. —— 2005. “Motivating Inferentialism.” Pragmatics and Cognition 13: 121–140.Google Scholar
  23. Miller, A. 2000. “Horwich, Meaning and Kripke’s Wittgenstein.” Philosophical Quarterly 50: 161–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. —— 2006. “Meaning Scepticism.” In The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Language, ed. M. Devitt and R. Hanley. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  25. Moore, A. W. 1985. “Transcendental Idealism in Wittgenstein and Theories of Meaning.” Philosophical Quarterly 35: 134–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Railton, P. 2000. “A Priori Rules.” In New Essays on the A Priori, ed. P. Boghossian and C. Peacocke. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Rosen, G. 1997. “Who Makes the Rules Around Here?” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57: 163–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sellars, W. 1953. “Inference and Meaning” Mind 62: 318–338.Google Scholar
  29. —— 1964. Science, Perception and Reality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Shapiro, L. 2004. “Brandom on the Normativity of Meaning.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68: 141–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Strawson, P. F. 1992. Analysis and Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Stroud, B. 2002. Meaning, Understanding, and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Whiting, D. 2006. “Meaning-theories and the Principle of Humanity.” The Southern Journal of Philosophy 44.Google Scholar
  34. -- 2007. “The Normativity of Meaning Defended.” Analysis 66.Google Scholar
  35. -- Forthcoming: “Meaning, Norms, and Use: Critical Notice of Donald Davidson’s Truth, Language, and History.” Philosophical Investigations.Google Scholar
  36. Wittgenstein, L. 1967. Philosophical Investigations 3rd ed., ed. G. E. M. Anscombe, R. Rhees and G. H. von Wright, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  37. Wright, C. 2001. Rails to Infinity. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Whiting
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ReadingWhiteknights, ReadingUK

Personalised recommendations