I just noticed this over at Online Papers in Philosophy: Dan Dennett’s “The Evolution of ‘Why?’ - Essay on Robert Brandom, Making it Explicit“.
We both learned a lesson from Wilfrid Sellars that still hasn’t sunk in with many of our colleagues.Â Â I quote, not for the first time, what I consider to be the pithiest expression of it in Sellars:
My solution is that “. . . .’means’ - - -” is the core of a unique mode of discourse which is as distinct from the description and explanation of empirical fact, as is the language of prescription and justification. (Chisholm and Sellars, 1958, p527Bdiscussed briefly by
me in 1987, p[341)
The ineliminable,Â foundational normativity of all talk of meaning or intentionality was first insisted upon by Sellars, and Brandom’s version of the reason for this is comprehensive and detailed.Â Brandom chooses to adopt my “intentional stance” way of characterizing this unique mode of discourse,Â Â since the evaluative or normative presuppositions can be readily seen to be built right into the rules of that game.Â He then draws a distinction between simple intentional systems (what I call first-order intentional systems, entities whose behavior is readily interpretable by ascribing beliefs, desires and other intentional states to them) and interpreting intentional systems (what I call higher-order intentional systems, capable of ascribing intentional states to others and to themselves).Â Â Now which kind comes first?