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Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication

With a Foreword by Richard J. Bernstein and an Afterword by John Durham Peters

Edited By Jason Hannan

Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication is the first book to draw systematic attention to the theme of communication in twentieth-century academic philosophy. It covers a broad range of philosophical perspectives on communication, including those from analytic philosophy, pragmatism, critical theory, phenomenology, hermeneutics, feminism, psychoanalysis, systems theory, and more. What emerges is a vital, long-neglected story about the theme of communication in late modern academic philosophy. Each chapter features a «profile» of a particular philosophical figure, with a brief intellectual biography, an overview of that figure’s contribution to communication theory, and a critical assessment of the significance of that contribution. The clear and accessible organization of the volume makes it ideal for courses in both philosophy and communication studies.

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4 Robert Brandom: Inference and Meaning KEVIN SCHARP 99

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4 Robert Brandom Inference and Meaning KEVIN SCHARP ________________________________________ Robert Boyce Brandom was born in 1950, graduated with a BA in philosophy from Yale University in 1972, and received his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University in 1977. While at Princeton, Brandom worked closely with David Lewis, but the director of his dissertation “Practice and Object” (an allusion to W. V. Quine’s great work, Word and Object) was Richard Rorty. Lewis is best known for revitalizing traditional metaphysics within analytic philosophy, while Rorty is famous (perhaps notorious) for his pragmatic and relativistic critiques of analytic philosophy. The combination is striking: Lewis, the ultimate insider whose technical brilliance and clarity is almost worshiped by today’s metaphysicians, and Rorty, the consummate rebel and outsider who attacked virtually everything contemporary analytic philosophers hold dear. The blend of these features can be seen throughout Brandom’s writings; he is at once working firmly from within the tradition of analytic philosophy while simultaneously casting a critical eye from the outside. Brandom arrived at the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant professor in 1976, becoming an associate professor in 1980, and attaining the rank of full professor in 1991. Thirty years after his arrival at the University of Pitts- burgh, he was named a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy. Today, his is one of the most familiar names at this top philosophy program. One can think of Brandom’s career as split into two parts, with the 1994 publication of Making It Explicit, his most well-known book, marking the divide....

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