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Norms and Habits: Brandom on the Sociality of Action



In this paper I argue against Brandom's two-ply theory of action. For Brandom, action is the result of an agent acknowledging a practical commitment and then causally responding to that commitment by acting. Action is social because the content of the commitment upon which one acts is socially conferred in the game of giving and asking for reasons. On my proposal, instead of seeing action as the coupling of a rational capacity to acknowledge commitments and a non-rational capacity to reliably respond to these commitments, we should see action as the coupling, or potential coupling, of a capacity to reason practically and a capacity to act on habits and bodily skills. In putting forward this alternative model of action, I aim to replace Brandom's rationalist brand of Pragmatism with a more classical kind, one that will let us see action as social not only at the level of reasons but also at the level of bodily habits and skills.