Analytic Pragmatism and Universal LX Vocabulary

Richard Samuels, Kevin Scharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In his recent John Locke Lectures – published as Between Saying and Doing – Brandom extends and refines his views on the nature of language and philosophy by developing a position that he calls Analytic Pragmatism. Although Brandom’s project bears on an extraordinarily rich array of different philosophical issues, we focus here on the contention that certain vocabularies have a privileged status within our linguistic practices, and that when adequately understood, the practices in which these vocabularies figure can help furnish us with an account of semantic intentionality. Brandom’s claim is that such vocabularies are privileged because they are a species of what he calls universal LX vocabulary –roughly, vocabulary whose mastery is implicit in any linguistic practice whatsoever. We show that, contrary to Brandom’s claim, logical vocabulary per se fails to satisfy the conditions that must be met for something to count as universal LX vocabulary. Further, we show that exactly analogous considerations undermine his claim that modal vocabulary is universal LX. If our arguments are sound, then, contrary to what Brandom maintains, intentionality cannot be explicated as a “pragmatically mediated semantic phenomenon”, at any rate not of the sort that he proposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1803-1827
Number of pages25
JournalPhilosophia (United States)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptual analysis
  • Conditionals
  • Intentionality
  • Logic
  • Logical Constants
  • Pragmatism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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