Robert Brandom

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Robert Brandom
Robert Brandom.jpg
Born March 13, 1950
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Pragmatism, Analytic
Main interests
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of mind
Philosophy of logic
Notable ideas

Robert Boyce Brandom (born March 13, 1950)[1] is an American philosopher who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. He works primarily in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and philosophical logic, and his work manifests both systematic and historical interests in these topics. His work has presented "arguably the first fully systematic and technically rigorous attempt to explain the meaning of linguistic items in terms of their socially norm-governed use ('meaning as use', to cite the Wittgensteinian slogan), thereby also giving a non-representationalist account of the intentionality of thought and the rationality of action as well."[2]

Brandom earned his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University, under Richard Rorty and David Kellogg Lewis.

Brandom is broadly considered to be part of the American pragmatist tradition in philosophy.[3][4]


Brandom's work is heavily influenced by that of Wilfrid Sellars, Richard Rorty, Michael Dummett and his Pittsburgh colleague John McDowell. He also draws heavily on the works of Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Gottlob Frege, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

He is best known for his investigations of linguistic meanings, or semantics. He advocates the view that the meaning of an expression is fixed by how it is used in inferences (see inferential role semantics). This project is developed at length in his influential 1994 book, Making It Explicit, and more briefly in Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism (2000).

Brandom has also published a collection of essays on the history of philosophy, Tales of the Mighty Dead (2002), a critical and historical sketch of what he calls the "philosophy of intentionality". He is the editor of a collection of papers about Richard Rorty's philosophy, Rorty and His Critics (2000). He delivered the 2006 John Locke lectures at Oxford University, and they have been published by Oxford University Press under the title Between Saying and Doing: Towards an Analytic Pragmatism (2008). Brandom is currently working on a book dealing with Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit.


  • Perspectives on Pragmatism: Classical, Recent, & Contemporary, Harvard University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-674-05808-8
  • Reason in Philosophy: Animating Ideas, Harvard University Belknap Press, 2009. ISBN 9780674053618
  • Between Saying and Doing: Towards an Analytic Pragmatism, Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 0-199-54287-2
  • In the Space of Reasons: Selected Essays of Wilfrid Sellars, edited with an introduction by Kevin Scharp and Robert Brandom. Harvard University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-674-02498-2
  • Tales of the Mighty Dead: Historical Essays in the Metaphysics of Intentionality, Harvard University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-674-00903-7
  • Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism, Harvard University Press, 2000 (paperback 2001), 230 pp. ISBN 0-674-00158-3
  • Rorty and His Critics, edited, with an introduction (includes "Vocabularies of Pragmatism") by Robert Brandom. Original essays by: Rorty, Habermas, Davidson, Putnam, Dennett, McDowell, Bouveresse, Brandom, Williams, Allen, Bilgrami, Conant, and Ramberg. Blackwell's Publishers, Oxford, July 2000 ISBN 0-631-20981-6
  • Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, by Wilfrid Sellars, Robert B. Brandom (ed.) Harvard University Press, 1997. With an introduction by Richard Rorty and Study Guide by Robert Brandom ISBN 0-674-25154-7
  • Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing, and Discursive Commitment, Harvard University Press (Cambridge) 1994. ISBN 0-674-54319-X
  • The Logic of Inconsistency, with Nicholas Rescher. Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1980.


  1. (Robert Boyce Brandom - Curriculum Vitae)
  2. Reading Brandom: On Making It Explicit. Reviewed by James R. O'Shea, University College Dublin
  3. Hookway, Christopher (16 August 2008). "Pragmatism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 9 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. McDermid, Douglas (15 December 2006). "Pragmatism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 9 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Bernd Prien and David P. Schweikard (eds.), Robert Brandom: Analytic Pragmatist, Ontos, 2008, 194pp., ISBN 978-3-938793-77-0. [Collection of essays with Brandom’s responses].
  • Jeremy Wanderer, Robert Brandom, Acumen Publishing (UK); McGill-Queens University Press (US), 2008, 256 pp. 256 ISBN 978-0-7735-3486-5. [Critical introduction].
  • Bernhard Weiss and Jeremy Wanderer (eds.), Reading Brandom: On Making It Explicit, Routledge 2010, 371 pp, ISBN 978-0-415-38037-9 [Collection of essays—including contributions by Gibbard, Dennett, Taylor, McDowell, Dummett, Fodor & Lepore and Wright—with Brandom's responses].

External links