From Practical Attitude to Normative Status: Defending Brandom's Solution of the Rule-Following Problem

Matthias Kiesselbach


This essay discusses Robert Brandom's attempt to explain normative statuses in
terms of practical attitudes. According to a standard criticism, the strategy
faces a dilemma: if practical attitudes are specified in non-normative terms,
then they can underwrite no more than mere regularity; but if they are specified
using normative terms, then the strategy becomes viciously circular. This essay
argues that the second horn of the dilemma can be neutralised in two steps.
First, allow that multiple agents' practical attitudes can be jointly
self-validating; second, interpret statements about normative statuses
(including the theorist's statements about the appropriateness of practical
attitudes) as themselves exhibiting practical attitudes. The circularity
associated with this proposal does not attach to the explanatory strategy, but
to the pragmatic system within which normative talk figures. In this essay, the
proposal is applied to the normative phenomena of paper money circulation
(value) and language (meaning).


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; rule-following; pragmatism; normativity; normative pragmatics

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