The comments on the last post were helpful, so I’m going to take another stab at figuring out how implicit norms are supposed to get around the rule-following problems that are supposed to undermine explicit rules. I think I was wrong to attribute the thesis that implicit rules are too much like explicit norms. Looking back at Ch.1, a difference emerges. Implicit rules are supposed to be exemplifications of a practical ability, applying practical rules and standards. They are a form of know-how. Explicit rules are linguistic, propositional things. They are a form of know-that.

Brandom denies that know-how is reducible to know-that. Instead, I think he thinks the converse is true, know-that is reducible to or at least depends on know-how. Consequently, I’m doubtful that it is correct to say that implicit rules can be made explicit without remainder. The reason is that there is a change in kind, from know-how to know-that. Since implicit rules are exemplified in the normative attitudes held by and sanctions performed by the critters in question, there is not the threat of a regress developing. This is because there is nowhere for the interpretive regress to get started.

This is, at least, the start of the answer. It is much like the previously suggested Kantian strategy of using the faculty of judgment. Something different in kind than the explicit rules is brought in to ground the explicit rules and prevent the regress. More details need to be supplied, but I think that is roughly how the start of the story goes. The rest of Ch. 1 supplies some of the details. Brandom leans on the idea of sanctions quite a bit and more needs to be said about them. They are important and in some cases non-normative, but I don’t have much to say about them at this point.