Articulating Animals: Animals and Implicit Inferences in Brandom’s Work

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Between the Species: An Online Journal for the Study of Philosophy and Animals, Vol: 14, Issue: 1, Page: 3

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Musser, Joel D
Robert E. Kennedy Library, Cal Poly
Brandom; animal; mind; language; explicit inferences; implicit inferences; practical inference; practical reason; rationality; intentionality
article description
Brandom denies animals implicit reasoning by emphasizing their inability to make inferences explicit, and in so doing, denigrates animals by likening their behavior to that of machines and artifacts. With disturbing regularity and ease, Brandom equates pigeons and parrots to machines and thermostats in their inability to express implicit/explicit inferences: neither the pigeon nor the machine can “provid[e] reasons for making other moves in the language game.”I contest, however, that animals are paradigmatically more than any similarity or analogy to mechanical processing, just as humans are paradigmatically more than any reductive analogy to animals. The human/animal distinction need not come at the cost of ignoring the difference between animals and artifacts, and I believe we can largely subscribe to Brandom’s differentiation of the human in terms of expressionism if we allow that animals can make implicit inferences without making them explicit.