Bookkeeping

People concerned with formal transformations distinguish “bookkeeping” operations from more substantive ones. On reflection, I think something like this is all that is needed to resolve the difficulty I created for myself with apparently conflicting requirements to preserve distinctions between empirical and transcendental subjectivity on the one hand, while implementing the normative monism I have attributed to Brandom on the other.

For each distinguished lump of empirical subjectivity initially kept separate alongside a transcendental synthesis, there should be some isolable correlate expressible in terms of further transcendental content not included in the synthesis. So although this further content is separate from the particular synthesis in question, unlike the starting lumps of empirical subjectivity, it will be transcendental in character. Thus the initial empirical residue can be “lifted” into the transcendental context by some appropriate process, leaving no remainder. Thus monism can be restored.

I’m metaphorically applying a functional programming concept here. When the specification of a program is fully separated from its execution, it becomes possible to do things like construct or transform a complete, possibly side-effecting program inside another program, without executing the first program or incurring the side effect when the second program is executed. This makes it possible to write a higher-order program that has no side effects (“transcendental”), but returns a value that is itself executable and that will cause side effects when executed (“empirical”).