Brandom’s master strategy

Below the fold are my attempts to get a better handle on Brandom’s overall strategy. I also revisit some of the same themes with respect to autonomy outlined in the previous post on Brandom, although I haven’t quite digested all of Shawn’s helpful comments on this material yet. Shawn has some posts of his own up on Brandom’s Woodbridge Lectures over at Words and Other Things for those of you who have not already seen them.

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Brandom on Freedom and Objectivity

I’ve been trying to write on Brandom, relating his project to the problem of the threatened antinomy between autonomy and external obligations that I’ve been trying to develop. The somewhat lengthy results can be found below the fold. I’m not sure that I’ve nailed all the details yet, especially with respect to some of the more technical aspects of Brandom’s system, but I think the gist is clear.

Also, on the topic of Brandom, N Pepperell and L Magee’s excellent conference paper on him and Habermas can be found here.

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Robert Brandom: a few links

Brandom

1. Brandom’s Locke Lectures 2006, ‘Between Saying and Doing: Towards an Analytic Pragmatism’ (audio [currently unavailable] ¦ text)

2. Brandom’s Woodbridge Lectures 2007, ‘Animating Ideas of Idealism’ (text)

3. Articles on Making It Explicit here (see under ‘Readings’).

4. Special issue of Pragmatics & Cognition on Brandom here (subscription required).

I look forward to reading Selbsttatigkeit’s promised reflections on the Woodbridge Lectures. For my part, I think they have some serious flaws as a reading of the idealist tradition, which is much less social-pragmatic than Brandom makes out. (Something that I think is shown by the strength of the readings given by Allen Wood, John McDowell and, one of my supervisors, Bob Stern.) Nonetheless, Brandom always does a good job of presenting a clear story and his readings of the history of philosophy are usually far more interesting for what they reveal about his own project; if only because he often frames others as so many failed attempts at articulating something resembling his system. I’ll try and comment on the Woodbridge Lectures myself when I have the time, probably focussing on the reading of Hegel he puts forward.

Social Security

There’s an excellent post up at Roughtheory by the mysterious wizard L Magee. In it he does a great job of setting out the disagreements between Habermas and Brandom as found in their exchange a few years back in the European Journal of Philosophy. The post lays the foundations for a more detailed engagement with Brandom and Habermas that asks how compatible their social-pragmatic approaches really are. Great stuff and highly recommended!

Neo-pragmatism and normative constraint

In lieu of a more substantive post — as I’m busy writing a piece for my supervision meeting on Tuesday as well as marking — I thought I’d post this primarily exegetical essay that I wrote about this time last year for my MA. It’s entitled ‘Neo-pragmatism and normative constraint: Rorty, Brandom and beyond’ and deals with some of the topics to do with normative authority that have come up here already and shall continue to do so. The focus is predominantly epistemological, in contrast to the debates centring on morality and critical theory that I’ve been thinking about recently, but may be useful for its very difference in approach since it may allow a degree of ‘triangulation’ when thinking about normativity in general. My thoughts on these topics are in semi-permanent flux so I do not necessarily still endorse all the content. (Nor, indeed, do I make any promises about its quality!)

Also, thanks to N Pepperell and Nate for their recent comments. In what will likely become a convention here with respect to substantive comments, I shall respond in post form when I have time to do these reponses justice. This better suits the rather lumbering pace of my thoughts and will allow me to clarify and reformulate matters to myself in a marginally less sketchy form.