I’ve been a bit negligent in my posting. My apologies. Things got terribly hectic around here and it sapped all my energy for writing.

I was talking to a colleague today and was asked about what to read over the summer to get a handle on Brandomian inferentialism. One answer is to read all of Making It Explicit, but that is a bit daunting. I’ve compiled the following list that is much more manageable and hits all of the essential points I think. The abbreviations are: MIE for Making It Explicit and AR for Articulating Reasons.

AR Ch 1 This is a brief introduction to some of the main ideas of semantic inferentialism. It is developed in the next item. It also has an overly short introduction to Brandom’s view of logic, although I don’t know of a lengthy discussion of it. 

MIE Ch. 2 This is on inferential semantics. The main ideas are presented here, but almost all of them are further developed in MIE ch. 3, 6, and 8. This chapter, while containing a lot of what I think people tend to mean when they talk about inferentialism, is rather incomplete without MIE ch. 3. This chapter has a slightly longer discussion of Brandom’s view of logic, although it could use a longer discussion given its apparent centrality. 

MIE Ch. 3 This chapter outlines the scorekeeping model that is central to Brandom’s view. Some of the concepts introduced in ch. 2 and 3 change some over the course of the book.  In particular, I think the notion of commitment changes as the book develops. The complications of the view presented in the later parts of the book require some adjustment of some of the notions introduced earlier. 

AR Ch. 4 This where Brandom argues for his regimentation of language into predicates and singular terms in terms of the distinctive roles these categories play in language. It is rather important in the overall view, I think. The version in AR is better than the version in MIE (which comprises all of ch. 6). If you have objections, which are likely to pop up, look at the appendices to MIE ch. 6. 

MIE Ch. 8 This is where Brandom gives his account of propositional attitude ascriptions. This is important because it forms the basis of his argument that his view secures objectivity of content. 

AR Ch. 6 This distills the objectivity argument from MIE. I don’t remember if it improves upon it or just condenses it, so this is probably optional. 

MIE Ch. 5 Section V This is his short bit on truth and its expressive role. This is not that important, but it summarizes one of Brandom’s older papers on truth. It elaborates the expressive view of logic. This is optional. The rest of ch. 5 is more or less a summary of the prosentential theory of truth with a minor modification. 

MIE Ch. 9 This chapter contains some dealing with assorted philosophical loose ends and summary, which is useful in figuring out what has been done. This is probably optional as well, depending on interest. 

After all that, it is worthwhile to look at John MacFarlane’s “Pragmatism and Inferentialism,” which is available on his website on his papers page. It is a critical piece which does a good job of presenting Brandom’s scorekeeping model and does a nice job of putting pressure on Brandom’s view of pragmatics and his claim that “semantics must answer to pragmatics,” which is a bit opaque. 

There are certainly other things to read on the topic, apart from the big book. Let me know if the list should be amended.

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