Objects, Anaphora

Chapter 7 of Making It Explicit is dedicated to anaphora, or “the structure of token repeatables”. Anaphora is a linguistic phenomenon involving a reference back to something previously mentioned, using a different term or terms from the original mention, such as a pronoun. (This is different from the rhetorical use of the term.) It thus tracks usage of different singular terms to refer to the same thing.

According to Brandom, anaphora is the key to understanding how claims come to refer to objects. Brandom notes that Frege in the Foundations of Arithmetic was concerned with the justification of singular representational purport. Judgments expressing our recognition of an object as the same again function as licenses for substitution for corresponding singular terms. Inferentially licensed substitutions for singular terms give conceptual content to identity. In this context, Brandom speaks of substitutional triangulation and substitutional holism.