This book offers new insights into the nature of human rational capacities by engaging inferentialism with empirical research in the cognitive sciences.
Inferentialism advocates that humans' unique kind of intelligence is discursive and rooted in competencies to make, assess and justify claims. This approach provides a rich source of valuable insights into the nature of our rational capacities, but it is underdeveloped in important respects. For example, little attempt has been made to assess inferentialism considering relevant scientific research on human communication, cognition or reasoning. By engaging philosophical and scientific approaches in a productive dialogue, this book shows how we can better understand human rational capacities by comparing their respective strengths and weaknesses. In this vein, the author critically revisits and constructively develops central themes from the work of Robert Brandom and other "language rationalists": the nature of the assertoric practice and its connection to reasoned discourse, the linguistic constitution of the shared space of reasons, the social nature and function of reasoning, the intersubjective roots of social-normative practices and the nature of objective thought.
Practices of Reason will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and philosophy of logic.
Ladislav Koren is Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy and Social Sceinces, University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. His areas of interest include epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of social sciences. His work has been published in international journals including Synthese, Inquiry, and Journal of Social Ontology. He is the co-editor, with Ondrej Beran and Vojtech Kolman, of From Rules to Meanings: New Essays on Inferentialism (Routledge, 2018). He is also the coeditor, with Hans Bernhard Schmid, Preston Stovall and Leo Townsend, of Groups, Norms and Practices: Essays on Inferentialism and Collective Intentionality (2021).
Part I: Moving in the Space of Reasons
2. Assertion: A Pragmatic Genealogy
3. Articulating a Space of Reasons
Part II: The Nature of Reasoning
4. Reasoning: An Interactionist Approach
5. Reasoning as Giving and Asking for Reasons
Part III: From Intersubjectivity to Objective Thought
6. Shared World: Intersubjective Foundations
7. Objective Thought
"This important book succeeds admirably in its principal aim: opening the conversation between normative inferentialist ideas from philosophy and some of the best current empirical work on the discursive abilities of creatures like us. The result is substantial reciprocal illumination of the ideas emerging from each." - Robert Brandom, University of Pittsburgh, USA
"Many animals think, but humans assess evidence. How did such an ability emerge? Koren articulates and defends the proposal that it was aided by social practices of giving and asking for reasons. In doing so, he advances the larger philosophical project of inferentialism-a core idea of which is that human reasoning is distinctively social and discursive-by bringing it into close and extended conversation with some of the best empirical work on the evolution of cognition. He also shows how inferentialism helps refine our interpretations of this work, getting us closer to the truth. Koren writes with unusual clarity about these intriguing but difficult issues, making it easier for the rest of us to get to the truth with him." - Chauncey Maher, Dickinson College, USA