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There is a paradox about self-legislating norms that if the norms are self-legislated, they are not binding. In order to avoid this paradox, Brandom turns to Hegel's point that "normative statuses such as authority and responsibility are at base social statuses" (Reason in Philosophy, 66).

However, by including as a necessary condition to the binding of norms a social status, does Brandom really remain faithful to the Kantian idea that norms are self-legislated?

Furthermore, does Brandom remain faithful to his own idea that norms are legislated solely by objectless activities? If what is required in any legislation is an act of reciprocity and recognition, what is involved in any such recognition is a recognition of an object, namely the person or the group. Such an activity's end is not implicit but explicit, finding its terminus in a thing. This seems to go against Brandom's thesis that norms are determined by implicit know-how rather than explicit know-that.

  • why do you think that self-legislsted norms are not binding? – user20153 Oct 14 '16 at 0:49
  • If they are given by the self then the self is just as free to not give them. It's similar to if I were to legislate for myself the rule of never eating pancakes. More likely than not I would break that rule this morning because there's nothing besides my will holding me to it, and my will is hungry for pancakes. Ultimately, self-given rules don't sufficiently account for the normality we observe in actual life. – Goob Oct 14 '16 at 12:59
  • norms are not private. it's true that private rules are not binding since you are free to change the rule. but norms are social and they are just as binding as laws of nature. you can violate the rules of chess, but then you're not playing chess - which means you cannot in fact violate the rules of chess. – user20153 Oct 14 '16 at 17:56
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    There is a self-binding possible in Kant only because it is imposed by reason, which is interpersonally shared. This is exactly what is expressed in his Kingdom of Ends. Autonomy is commonly misunderstood in radical libertarian terms, which is utterly missing the point. The more interesting tension between Kant and Hegel therefore is wether Kant is more (too) abstract with his social component and Hegel therefore rightfully said that this sociality can only be in terms based on particular society, or Hegel himself just expressed the very same idea differently and mistook Kant intentionally – Philip Klöcking Oct 14 '16 at 22:20
  • Ask more questions about this stuff, please! – Joseph Weissman Oct 15 '16 at 13:02
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I believe that the key inference is:"If what is required in any legislation is an act of reciprocity and recognition, what is involved in any such recognition is a recognition of an object". Whether or not this is true (and I suspect that most pragmatists would see it as a non-sequitur, if intelligible at all) this is certainly not Kant's position. In the Kantian scheme "object" is a category of appearances, while the moral autonomy belongs to the self beyond the appearances. The ultimate dictates of practical reason therefore can not rely on recognition of objects, they are synthetic a priori, like the categorical imperative. But even in other forms of transcendental idealism, like Husserl's, objects and the rest of "objective reality" are constituted as such by the "transcendental subject", and can not therefore be involved in a fundamental philosophical account of their constitution. Pragmatists and transcendental idealists agree on that much.

In fact, Kant's theory of autonomy and free will goes far beyond what any pragmatist would countenance. Not only is self's will objectless, it is atemporal as well, beyond the realm of phenomena and their causal chains, affecting them only as a totality, see Is Kant's "noumenal self" argument on freedom flawed? Hence the demand of the categorical imperative to adopt universalizable maxims. There is a big difference between Kant and Hegel on the source of this autonomy however. To Kant the "transcendental subject" is some pre-empirical commonality residing in the "supersensible substrate of humanity", and it is exactly on this point that Hegel broke with him, interpreting it instead as the product of social Geist produced by sedimentation of historical developments. Brandom goes further in demythologizing this picture by identifying the Geist with historical human communities and their practices and customs.

Pippin discusses Kantian (and Hegelian) self-legislation and autonomy in his book Persistence of Subjectivity, in the chapter on Brandom's (much more Kantian) fellow pragmatist, McDowell:

"There is, for Kant, only one way of realizing this requirement (whatever it is) of self-direction or self-determination: Following the dictates of practical reason, to do nothing that you cannot rationally justify. To be autonomous is to constrain our action only by rules and principles we can justify with reason, that we can defend to ourselves with reason. (We can thereby “stand behind” our actions, as our own.) Finally, though, there is for Kant only one way to realize this condition, since pure practical reason, according to him, has no insight into which ends are universally worth pursuing... Yes, in means-end reasoning, we should deliberate about the most efficient means, and perhaps we can say we should have a life plan, a way of ordering and prioritizing our ends. But that has nothing to do with autonomy, since it is not ultimately up to us which overall ends, even very general ones, appeal to us. Likewise, this prudential interpretation is too weak to rope in Kant’s unique position...

“Moral insight” is of a peculiar sort in Kant; seeing that anything is the case – say, that this is the principle that a purely rational being with a finite will would adopt – in itself in no way constrains our action, does not function just thereby as a norm. He always uses language like “being obligated is placing ourselves under the law,” submitting or subjecting ourselves (unterwerfen) to it. So if we consider the question of Why are we obligated to act on maxims consistent with the demands of pure practical reason? we have to say something like “Because we have obligated ourselves to it.” The self-legislation language – I make this a law for myself, submit to its authority – is not expungeable from Kant..."

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    iow, "self-legislsted norm" does not mean "norm I (privately) legislated", it means "(public) norm to which I (privately) bind myself." "self-legislsted norm" in the former sense is an oxymoron. yes? – user20153 Oct 15 '16 at 18:57
  • @mobileink In Brandom yes, in Kant and Hegel, well, they did not have the benefit of hearing the private language argument. Kant had the individual autonomy of the noumenal self, and Hegel wrote passages about the Spirit "coming to itself as the product of itself" that even Pippin finds jarring. – Conifold Oct 26 '16 at 1:05
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Three thoughts on this.

First, Hegel is also committed to the basic thesis that norms are self-legislated by reason. We can trace this Hegelian root to Systems of Ethical Life (System der Sittlichkeit) and can also find it even in Hegel's critiques of Kant in Natural Law, Phenomenology of Spirit, and Philosophy of Right. The point of disagreement that Hegel has with the Kantian idea is about the possibility of view-from-nowhere reason. For Hegel, reason happens in embodied rational subjects who express these reasons in a social medium.

Second, there's an important eliding that happens when many people say sentences like "normative statuses such as authority and responsibility are at base social statuses" (I haven't read this particular text by Brandom, so I can't state definitively whether he is doing so correctly or incorrectly). Many readers incorrectly assume that this means Hegel thinks merely social. Hegel, however, means something else -- namely that these statuses are social-for-us, which is to say they are actual but that we access actuality (especially in matters of ethics) through socialization. Reworded in Kantian terms, our epistemic categories are social categories, and reason discovers these in time.

Third, many contemporary Kantians accept the socialization of concepts. Jurgen Habermas for instance does so explicitly. Others (like Christine Korsgaard), I would argue, do so implicitly. Many of these others argue that this is what Kant was saying all along and we don't need Hegel to get there. Thus, we have Allen Wood suggesting Hegel's critique is unfair.

I may be insufficiently familiar with Brandom to adequately address your last question, but assuming the bit about "reciprocity and recognition" is supposed to identify a feature in the Hegelian structure of norm-making, the objection seems to misunderstand Hegel's position. On the Hegelian picture, norm-making is a secondary process that happens within societies rather than the object of action. In the second section of Philosophy of Right ("ethical life"), it becomes clear that what is happening is that the ethical community is arriving at and revising rules as it discovers the inadequacies of its previous rules in the course of life. That we live in communities and think in communities is for Hegel a fact rather than a direct achievement (the mutual recognition concept in Hegel is an idealization rather than a real moment in History and one that ends in society rather than murder).

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You seem to have already answered your own question. All the succeeding quotes are from the question.

However, by including as a necessary condition to the binding of norms a social status, does Brandom really remain faithful to the Kantian idea that norms are self-legislated?

NO, HE DOES NOT REMAIN FAITHFUL.

Why not? What's wrong with self-legislated norms?

There is a paradox about self-legislating norms that if the norms are self-legislated, they are not binding.

So, where does Brandom turn to, when he turns away from Kant, because of the paradox?

In order to avoid this paradox, Brandom turns to Hegel's point that "normative statuses such as authority and responsibility are at base social statuses" (Reason in Philosophy, 66).

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