Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2008
Understanding as Endorsing an Inference
Fodor & Lepore (2001) and Williamson (2003) attack the inferentialist account of concept possession according to which possessing or understanding a concept requires endorsing the inference patterns constitutive of its content. I show that Fodor & Lepore’s concern - that the conception places an exorbitant epistemological demands on possessors of a concept - is met by Brandom’s tolerance of materially bad nonconservative inferences. Such inferences themselves, as Williamson argues, present difficulties for the ‘understanding as endorsement’ conception. I show that, properly understood, Brandom’s broad conception of inferential role, which encompasses social-perspectival inferential connections, has the resources to respond to Willianson’s challenge.