Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



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 Brandom’s 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 Brandom’s 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 Heidegger’s concept of the world in terms of Dasein, animals, and unworlded things with an eye towards Brandom’s inferentialism. In Chapter Four I employ Mark Okrent’s teleological understanding of rationality to fill out Heidegger’s suggested view of animals. I conclude the thesis by showing how humans make explicit the implicit inferences of animals.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Cogburn, Jon