Constructing Commitment: Brandom's Pragmatist Take on Rule-Following


Institut für Philosophie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany.


According to a standard criticism, Robert Brandom's “normative pragmatics”, i.e. his attempt to explain normative statuses in terms of practical attitudes, faces a dilemma. If practical attitudes and their interactions are specified in purely non-normative terms, then they underdetermine normative statuses; but if normative terms are allowed into the account, then the account becomes viciously circular. This paper argues that there is no dilemma, because the feared circularity is not vicious. While normative claims do exhibit their respective authors' practical attitudes and thereby contribute towards establishing the normative statuses they are about, this circularity is not a mark of Brandom's explanatory strategy but a feature of social practice of which we theorists partake.