Robert Brandom

Robert Brandom
Born March 13, 1950
Alma mater Yale University (B.A., 1972)
Princeton University (Ph.D., 1977)
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 is broadly considered to be part of the American pragmatist tradition in philosophy.[3][4]


Brandom earned his B.A. in 1972 from Yale University and his Ph.D. in 1977 from Princeton University, under Richard Rorty and David Kellogg Lewis.[1] His doctoral thesis was titled Practice and Object.[1]


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); a chapter of that latter work, Semantic Inferentialism and Logical Expressivism, outlines the main themes of representialism vs inferentialism and its relationship to logical expressivism.

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.



  1. 1 2 3 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.
  4. McDermid, Douglas (15 December 2006). "Pragmatism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 9 December 2012.

Further reading

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