Brandon Beasley
University of Calgary
Huw Price has developed versions of naturalism and anti-representationalism to create a distinctive brand of pragmatism. ‘Subject naturalism’ focuses on what science says about human beings and the function of our linguistic practices, as opposed to orthodox contemporary naturalism’s privileging of the ontology of the natural sciences. Price’s anti-representationalism rejects the view that what makes utterances contentful is their representing reality. Together, they are to help us avoid metaphysical ‘placement problems’: how e.g. mind, meaning, and morality fit into the natural world. By combining subject naturalism and his own ‘global’ version of expressivism with Robert Brandom’s inferentialism about content, Price proposes a pragmatist ‘anthropology’ as a replacement for substantively metaphysical approaches to placement problems. In this paper I argue that Price’s project cannot succeed, and that this shows something important about what form pragmatism ought to take. Price’s view doesn’t work because no subject naturalist vocabulary is sufficient to describe any assertional practice; there is no way to connect his expressive-functionalist explanations to the practices and concepts which are their subject – nor, even, to the human subjects who are the focus of a philosophical anthropology. I close by suggesting how we might improve on these shortcomings of Price’s pragmatism.
Keywords pragmatism  content  naturalism  Huw Price  Robert Brandom
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