Title page for ETD etd-04262012-142938

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Musser, Joel David
Author's Email Address joel.david.musser@gmail.com
URN etd-04262012-142938
Title The Problem and Possibility of Animal Minds in Brandomís Work: Revisiting Heidegger, Rationality, and Normativity
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Philosophy & Religious Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cogburn, Jon Committee Chair
Raffoul, Francois Committee Member
Schufreider, Gregory Committee Member
Sirridge, Mary Committee Member
  • Language
  • Explicit
  • Implicit
  • Inferences
  • Discourse
  • Teleology
  • Okrent
  • MacIntyre
  • Rationality
  • Minds
  • Animals
  • Brandom
  • Heidegger
  • Normativity
Date of Defense 2012-04-19
Availability unrestricted
Robert 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. 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 Brandomís differentiation of the human in terms of expressionism if we allow that animals can make implicit inferences without making them explicit.

After exposing in Chapter One Brandomís ghettoizing of animal minds, I show in the following chapters what it might look like for humans to perform explication on behalf of implicit animal inferences. In Chapter Two I show where Brandom departs from Heidegger, and how there would otherwise be a place for animals in his thought. After revising Brandom along more orthodox Heideggerian lines, I explore in Chapter Three the early Heideggerís concept of the world in terms of Dasein, animals, and unworlded things with an eye towards Brandomís inferentialism. In Chapter Four I employ Mark Okrentís teleological understanding of rationality to fill out Heideggerís suggested view of animals. I conclude the thesis by showing how humans make explicit the implicit inferences of animals.

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