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North American Philosophical Publications

Freedom and Constraint by Norms


Author(s): Robert Brandom
Source: American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Jul., 1979), pp. 187-196
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the North American Philosophical
Publications
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American

Philosophical

Quarterly

16, Number

Volume

3, July

1979

ROBERT

BRANDOM
this distinction which was not envisioned by Kant,
and show how a novel response to the dispute

issue of human freedom classically arises in


to
the context of appraisal of action according

THE

we

when

norms,

an

seek

account

of

and

praise

One

the most

of

Kantian

tradition:

in being

sists precisely
than
be

merely
as well

in

their

doctrine

the

have

turn,

to what

answering
is. Hegel

to what

in the norms

an

by

central

feature

I
of

In order

will

of

decay
examine

an

atomic

one

gestion

to

according

on

of any

the

dictates

governed

by
by

and
and

as

somehow

expressed

self,

phenomenal

this distinction
as

of

an

and

or

the

Realm

of

free

of

explanation

freedom.

What

Yet

rather

redeemed.

In this paper

1 I am not
views which
2 "Truth

than

causal

constraint

I will present

to expound Kant
concerned
can be discussed
in abstraction
and Assertibility,"
The Journal

judgments
in

actions

to
than

to

activity

for

general,

differences

we
in which
respects
norms
the
about
say
we

are

so it is reasonable

objective

dis?

ances

in some

need

utterances

uses

which
the

individual
to

a
linguistic
utterance

Clearly

community

tinction between the realm of facts and the realm of


norms must be established
if the notion of freedom
as normative

certain

no

are

function

for

want

language-use

an

generates

secure

some

we

makes

priate?
self

longer

are

linguistic

incorrect,

between

for us. It is just too mysterious

the way

incorrectness
and

linguistic

other

about

to exploit
the

illuminate

views

broader

issues.

constrained

causally
so on?can
no

There
of what

attention

there

think we yet know which

govern

about

Freedom,
trans?

noumenal

between

and

kinds of norms,

of Nature,

Kant's
principles.
distinction
the

that

acts

surer

that

on

center

our

focus

of norm-governed

performances
are.

these

will

issues associated
which

claiming

differences

but I do not
are

we

not

correctness

linguistic

principles,1

the Realm

am

freedom

case

special

significant
of

sug?

as he

the

the difficult

human

norms,

by

activity.

paper

Kant's

insofar

norms

between

machinery?the
and Reason,

Understanding

serve

causes,
norms

this

developing

is free just

and of his distinction


governed
cendental

of

way

that one

In

nucleus.

of

constraint

vision of human freedom is the account offered of


respects in
(freedom
to)?those
positive freedom
which our activity should be distinguished
from the
mere
lack of external causal constraint
(freedom
from) exhibited
by such processes as the radio?
active

to clarify

accounts

with

spirit).

the character

determining

self

successor.

expressive

evolving

(the social synthesis of objective

community
The

sup?

an Hegelian

to

ought

admirers,
sort
second

the

generated

to be

needed

recommend

rather

concern with an influential doctrine of freedom as


consisting of the self-expression made possible by
acquiescence

concerning

his

and
to

responded

and will

plemented,

con?

freedom

account

Kant's

claimed

Hegel

by the

by norms

constrained

causes,

by
as

that

non-naturalists

and

out
the relation of fact to norm can be developed
ofthat rendering. I will then argue that the account
of human freedom which
results from this story
in just the ways in which
needs to be supplemented

responses

suggestive

to the first set of concerns has been developed

naturalists

between

issue of
The
blame,
approval
disapproval.
freedom arises again in the political context of an
account of the ways in which an individual is and
by norms imposed by his'
ought to be constrained
and

community.

BY NORMS

AND CONSTRAINT

III. FREEDOM

standards

sense

or

of

inappro?

the practice

utterances

of

correctness

that
by

are to be evaluated.
tokenings
truth or falsehood of claim-making
not
may

concern
not

be

us
true,

here,
and

since
true

or

correct

performance
appropriate

of the
type
which

The
utter?

appropriate
ones may
not

be appropriate.
I have argued elsewhere2 that the
notions of truth and meaning
should be understood
as theoretical auxiliaries
introduced as part of a

is to be

a version of

but to develop
various
(or, later, Hegel),
from detailed
consideration
of particular
of Philosophy, vol. 73 (1976), pp. 137-189.

consequences
texts.

of quite

.87

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general

features

of his

AMERICAN

l88

PHILOSOPHICAL

kind of theory of the practices

certain
language
our
For

which

generate

norms

present

purposes

we

of using

of appropriateness.
not
need
invoke

an

of

on

utterance

some

other

We

can

on

noise

this

express
of the

ventionality
with
standards

seduced

or
as

pressions

rules

in

of particular
as we
long

into
for

usage
some
of

they must

language which
to the

users

the

by

conform

of

the

are

the

not

of

thinking

ex?

linguistic

language,
which

constitute

in

only

the

utterances
to

the

ances

of

practices

of course

including

competent

for perceived
their
governing

of others

practices
and
the

available

practices

the

of criticizing
to conform

failures

linguistic
perform?
for adjudicating

as may
the
about
arise
appropriateness
disputes
in this way
of
utterance.
think
So long as we
of some
of
communal
the norms
usage
linguistic
governing
as
in the practice
of the com?
expressions
implicit
we

still

whatever

give

objective

capacities

are

to

we

able
attribute

we

account

causal

in virtue

of which

in the
engage
complicated
to them,
for no
regress

like

of

What
embodies

sort of a thing is the social practice


a

standard

of

linguistic usage ?Differently


or

an

correct

and

which

utterance

instance

3
See Ludwig Wittgenstein's,
4The distinction
between

of,

or

198 fr.
Investigations I, Section
will
these two sorts of explanation

per?

the

Classifying

into social
re?

criterioned

complexly
we do from

the

them.

responses,

of

regardless
them
takes

of

of
practices
to this

these

to

treat

formance
later,

such

The

as

outside,
members

to

takes

to be.

them
are

what
com?

any
particular
more
Galaxies

be.

in?

thing-kind,
instances
whose

instances

what

than

theEarth is such an objective


the
practices
determining

utterances

on

rather

than

classification.

linguistic

various

we

specify

an
appropriate
to say about
this

more
of

cannot

things
that
for

it is for the community


as

utterance

have
(we will
under
the heading

occasions

objective
It may
be

practices

just what

an

constitute

community
those whose

are

kinds

But

translation).

per?
issue

what?

ever epistemic difficulties


of identification we may
have do not alter the criteria of identity of such
which

practices,

put, what makes a given

correct

in this way

to understand

anthropologically

to

sponses

in
performance
a
some
Consider
social
accord
with,
practice?
a
of
have
members
whose
practice
community
In virtue
of what
with
other
each
gestures.
greeting
act

to

some

whatever

many

incorrect

concerned.

that

thus
practices
by communal

according

a rule.4

some

to

responding
as
a

of the community
need not explicitly split up their
activities in the ways we do, though they must do so
in the sense of responding as we have
implicitly,

appropriateness
are
social

unless we seek to explain the ability to engage in


in some fashion which
those linguistic practices
to
appeals
prior linguistic abilities, e.g., the following
of

are

hundred light-years from


thing-kind.
Linguistic

practices
is generated

make.

the

the

according
is something

munity

individuals

or would

is an
response
explicit
or
the community
says
correctness
of performances

that
What

of a community

Objective
are
they

the

is,

is just to specify what

community
or
utterance

entailing

behavior

are

rules or conventions
of (linguistically
expressed)
which must
themselves be applied correctly.3 We
can

as

taken

dividuated

regress
in terms

puzzling
pointlessly
of those norms
rendering

any

by

generated

the

avoid

just in
that

one,

formance of that practice. The criteria of identity


for social practices appeal to the judgment of the
here is not to be
community
(where "judgement"

postulated.
Social

such

munity,

the
acto

sponses
an
part of
attempt

language-users,

the practices

as

practices

the use of the language by that population. We


should rather think of those regularities as codified

be

is does

gesture

evaluation).
as far as
does,
goes,
of their own
practices

to

in order

understand

the

verbal

(even
ur
an

according

Clearly,

to

it

specify a social practice

counts

con?

takes

community

practice

To

vocables

ur-language

of usage

regularities

of

of the community?

an

treats it like one. The respect of similarity shared by


correct gestures and distinguishing
them from in?
correct ones is just a responsewhich the community

candidate

terms

of words

formulated

mentalese)

so

usage,

this form

conventions

in

the

whose

particular

occasions.

point

association
of

by

relevant

the

case

on

arm-motion
produced
particular
an
appropriate
greeting-gesture

to the practice

these

is clear from the fact that the community


occasion
whose language is in question could just as well use
some

some

is

occasion

notions, since we need not delve below the level of


the shared use of a
the practices which constitute
That
human
is
social practices
it
actual
language.
as a linguistic
which
the correctness
determine
performance

QUARTERLY

munity
ness
out
to

be our

of

of

solely
The

the

appraisals

performances
to say this
of

in the next

of
is not

correctness

re?

communal

com?

language-using

the linguistic correct?

has the last word about

before,

topic

consist

utterances.

its members.
to deny
according

section.

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As
that

pointed
in addition
to

the

lin

AND

FREEDOM

social

guistic

one

practices

must

to in order

conform

BY

CONSTRAINT

of

the

NORMS

189
of

appropriateness

as

performance,

the

is

to be speaking the language of the community


at
all there can be appraisals
instance
of
the
truth
(for

case

or

the determination
of the appropriateness
of a bride
price in some tribe.5 The point is that the past

of an

loudness

concern
which
utterance)
of that utterance?which

features
objective
are
of
they
independent
utterances.
to those
munity

munity.

else

such,

learned

is a

by
social

be

unlearnable

It is, on
presuppose
infallibility.
a condition
of having
probably

language

formal devices
that

would

languages

since they would


the other hand,

etc.)
true

of the com?
responses
Our
concern,
however,

the

to which
those norms conformity
is a
com?
of membership
in the linguistic
not
The truth of utterances
is obviously

is with
criterion
one

entirely
are what

certain

containing

a truth predicate,

(the conditional,
Taking
a matter

not

practice,

utterances

of one's

the majority
the community.

minimal

be

deemed
as

something
of objective

true
fact,

however.
One

consequence
over
enjoy

in is particularly
next

section.

able

to do

of

the

the

social

important

Consider

one

what

have

would

a social

to be

practice

objectively.
practice could be expressed by an
which
of past performances
objective description
had been accepted as in accord with the practice
to appropriately),
(were responded
together with
an account of the dispositions of the community
to
The

in the

respond

manner

specified

to future

activities.

These dispositions would be complex along a number


of different dimensions. First, notice that itmay well
matter

in what
come
the

evolve

resolved

order

'different

differently

the

with

community

issue

may

accept

be

may

up for adjudication.
an act as in accord

to
and
later
refuse
particular
practice,
as similar
as you
acts
In
like.
objectively
to the
in the
of a performance
position
tradition
of precedent
which
performances
comprise
we would
the social
viewed
in
practice
temporally,

accepts
addition

general
structure

have
of

to take
the

into

account

community

the

at which

location
a

in the

performance

is initially considered. For the community need not


be democratically
respect to its
organized with
social

practices.

There

may

be

kinds of special authority with


5
On

experts

with

various

respect to judgments

when

accords

of

as

ind?termination
even

And

with

in objective
to

complete

exactly

possible case will actually arise. This is a formidable


The trouble is that the community
undertaking.
has

total

even
objective
time

over

authority

if in the past

and

in

social

or no

any

may

they

at any

impunity

reason.

in objective

practices

that

a strong

responses,

with

source of difficulty

is another

so

practices,

exhibited

their

that regularity

for

own

their

they have

regularity

from

terms,

in capturing
the

namely

pos?

sibility of nested social practices. We have been


talking so far as if the response which a community
must make or be disposed
to make to a putative
to be in accord with a
in
order
for
it
performance
social

were

practice

terizable

always
The

response.

some

charac

objectively

objective

of

expression

social practice is then a matter simply of being able


to predict when that response will be elicited from
a difficult
the community,
but not mysterious
if the response which for us
enterprise. But what
identifies some social practice
is not an objective
some

rather

but

be in accord with
clearly
as
long

no
as

itself definitionally
This

response.
even
to
eventually
characterizable
of

chains

social
of

longer
in a

being

social

criterial,

generated

by

granted,

there

chains,

so

just

practice

There

such

envisaging

must

which

performance

another social practice?

problem
the
second,

practice

some
is no
they
an

is

situation
is

objective
obstacle
terminate

generated
by
objectively
The
response.
objective
description
such
of a community
for which
practice
were
social
the rule
rather
than
responses

the exception
thus
(e.g. linguistic practices) might
require the prediction of everything anyone in the
ever do. Although
would
it is not
community
obvious at this point, it will be shown in the next
section

that

we

such linguistic division of labor, and in particular


the importance
of the possibility
to be socially constituted
see Putnam's
of Meaning"
only in the future,
"Meaning
Reality, Philosophical Papers, vol. II (Cambridge,
1976).
elites

to what

with

as we
can
insofar
also
only
predict
structure
each
in the social
and where

areas

minate

response,

practices

upon where

depending
it comes

perform?

Social

does?an

of precedents

Thus

candidate

consideration.

case-law

way

very

in a chain

for

up

areas

large

case

the

of codification

performances.

possible

There

in the

as

be

like

of the complex dispositions of the com?


knowledge
will
enable the filling-in of these indeter?
munity

engage

they

practices

for our argument

to characterize

in order

com?

dominion

criterial

with

only

future

well

could

of theirs admits

practice
rules

as

or

of a community

decisions

use of words

the correct

with

"molybdenum,"

depart

munities

ances

in English

can

envisage

of adjudication
in pp. 215-272

situation

in which

of some disputes by expert


of his Mind, Language and

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AMERICAN

i go
social

every

the

of

practice

as

has

community

its

must

which

response
with
another

generating
in accord

PHILOSOPHICAL

performance
social
practice.

be

This

pos?

for our account


sibility has profound consequences
of the relation of the realm of objective
things to
the realm of social things.6

Simple as this social practice idiom is, it allows us


to describe the relation between norm and fact in a
see

To

what

about

dispute
to envision
between

are

to the naturalist,
other

(although,
about
what

views

various

norms

norms

facts

the naturalism/non
sort of distinction

consider

this,

on

the

and

are

facts,

of

course,

facts.

According
as
as any
objective
naturalists
have

sort of facts

are

to

"is"

It

"ought."
as

traditions

of

by

At

incorrectness.

other

norms

hand,

and

is clear

that

social

facts

practices,
or express
constituted

ones,
generate
linguistic
are
those
practices
case

the

for

correctness

of

judgments
least

of

these

and
norms

of

norms)

to

viewing

social
objective

concerning
The
non-naturalist

functioning
sees
in

value

emerging
When
the

as

practices

the

issue

accommodating
becomes

The

fact.

possible.

these

the

inherent
sees

naturalist

no

to

and is committed

facts
objective
communities.

complex
of various

a new

category

of norm

or

situations.

is put

in

we

need

any

a set of

constitutes
a

expresses

terms,

via media

insights of both view


not

choose

between

difference
that there is an objective
the claim
factual and
the social and the objectively
between

treats

community

The
and

behavior.

social
con?

normative

or

ontological,
we
to whether

according

that

of

body

and

practices

of

categorization
as
treat
them

of a community
between
treating

authority
difference

to

responds

criterial classification
of things into
social is itself a social, rather than

or

objective

or not. What,
some
system
as

it

treating

things
to the

subject

is the

then,
as a

set of
of

consisting

objective processes?
For the possibly special case of linguistic practices,
a

answer

straightforward

some bit of behavior

is

treat

We

available.

as the expression

of a linguistic

rather
than an objective
when
process
a causal
than
it, rather
offering
expla?
us agree
to extend
nation
of it. Let
the application
term
to include
the
of
trans?
"translation"
any
to engage
set of
formation
of the capacity
in one
social

we

practice
translate

social practices
set

in some

to engage

into the capacity

social

of

Transformation

practices.

of

the

ability to engage in those practices which constitute


the use of German
into those which constitute
the
use of English will then be a special case of general
are

We

translation.

some

with

behavior.
locatable

In practice,

explainer,

of

set of
and

the system

objective
social

be

any

of,

explanation

causal

about

be

of

understanding
Instead
we

account,

as an

practices

for

responsible

in question

say,

of red

the physiology

signal-producer.

an

such
own

the

facts
the

of

tempting
use our

how

involve

may

training

sort

this

complex

coping
can

performance

of some signal as an indicator

the reliability
objects,

of

Objectively,

as part of a
and explained
of other similarly described

described
objectively
causal web consisting
events.

two ways

considering

complex

spatio-temporally

quite

these

the motivating
For

about

their

(with

practices

of kind operating,
social

dis?

naturalist/non-naturalist
into a disagreement

translates

relation
distinction

The

fact.

objective
here

pute

hence

(and

other

are inherent
in social practices,7
the dis?
which
tinction between norm and fact coincides with the
distinction between social practices and any matter
of

of behavior

body

practices

social

important).

are different kinds of things, and this ontological


difference
reflects or is reflected by the impermissi
from
of
inferences
of whatever
bility
complexity
paradigmatically,
norms
insofar

a certain

objective
we

Accounts
of what ought to be may legitimately be
to the
inferred from accounts of what is. According
non-naturalist,

the claim that there is no difference at all between


as
them. We may
think instead of the difference
social
rather
than
but
genuine,
objective, according
to our criterial classification. On this view, whether

or merely exhibits
straint on performance)
complex
but objective regularities is not a matter of objective
fact. It is not, in other words, independent
of how

II

new way.
naturalism

QUARTERLY

an

may

and
of

at?

instead

unexplained
account

differs from what

of

we

6
Wilfrid
the most of this basic sort of distinction
between
the objective
Sellars has made
contemporary
Among
philosophers,
a causal or descriptive
his works for the importance
between
order and
of such a distinction
and the social. He has argued throughout
to Kant,
a normative
indebted
and the early Wittgenstein,
and reason giving
rather
order of justification
(a dualism
Schopenhauer,
and the Philosophy
of Mind"
in Sellars' Science, Perception,
This point is one of the keys to the classic "Empiricism
than Descartes).
this perspective
elaborates
and Reality
(London,
1968). Richard
Rorty
1963). See also chapter 7 of Science and Metaphysics
(London,
I am indebted.
in his forthcoming
Philosophy and theMirror of Nature, to which
7
I cannot argue the matter
that the social practice
idiom offers a quite general account of the nature of
here, I believe
Although
norms to other sorts of
entail discussing
such issues as the relation of moral
normative
constraint.
To show this, however,
would
to enter here.
social norms, a project I don't want

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in that

do

would

to

strategy,
to
conform

govern

explaining
it to our
own

own

expect
same
sorts

this
adopt
in
question
of appro?

system
norms

its

Translating,

rather

performance,

consists

performances
than
causally

as

in

elements.

in our

extended

our

sense,

assimilates
own

complex

social

to control

and specify

disanalogies

For

intended.

our

however,

even

holistically.
to a whole

One

providing

practices,

of fit

goodness

Translations,
must
proceed
of behavior

own

set

social

in a

sponded

way

particular

by

our

i.e.,

which
with

in accord

or would

does

another

elicit

of

and

practices

another

response
so on. From

the point of view of an external objective


our

the

practices,

constitutive
in

an

of

invocation

practices

objective
us in a vicious

of

of this sort which


of

correctness

explanatory

regress

criterion

involve

account

a chain

of

critical

didn't

end

would
or

circle.

But for us to engage in a web of social practices no


such requirement
applies. All that is required is
about
the community
sufficient agreement within
as an

of each
performance
appropriate
holistic
then
the web;
comprising
can
the
take
of performance
regularities
objective
to objective
of correctness
criteria
of
appeal
place
case.
that
this
I am not
in any
claiming
particular
a social
can
arises?we
situation
always
specify
counts

what
of

the

practices

practice
response.

condition

by
generated
The
point

of

an
is

objectively
it is not
that

the possibility

of our

characterized
a

some

by

social

objective
notice

that

each

response.
on this

practice

in

performance
as a member

this

our

of

than

ultimately

practice.
we
treat

way

the

and justification.

treat

performer
to our norms

By translating,

some

explaining

of

we

When

subject

community,

causally

or

governed

the measure

account,

is our social

so
behavior)
his performances

a member

necessary

community

to

performance,

fication.

The

That

is just

is
rather

criterial

classi?

has final say over who

community
are.

is or

community
is social

our

to

according

members

stranger,
own.
of our

this is that who

particular
a matter
which

of

the

include

as variants

of

case
paradigm
than
objective
own

as

we should remark about

What
isn't

community.

and

practice,

of practices,

stranger's
treat
and

But that response typically is itself a performance


which must be in accord with a social practice,
one

chains

critical

or anyone

that we

practices

that set into inferential

we extend our community


(the one which engages
into which we translate the
in the social practices

cannot in general be specified in isolation from one


is in accord with a particular
another. A performance
case it is or would be re?
ours
in
of
just
practice
to

to dissect

rather

commentary

the variety

else be able

of appropriateness

of this distinction
There are two consequences
which we should notice. First, causal explanations
can proceed atomistically,
building up the behavior
of a complex system out of independently describable
behavioral

l9l

in a set of social

engaging

Next,

assimilating
it as a dialect
of our

treating

practices,
idiom.8

practical

of

of

justification

ours.

as we

Insofar
the

the

and

priateness

situation.
we

second

NORMS

BY

CONSTRAINT

AND

FREEDOM

sort

the

its
that

issue

of

could not coherently be claimed


the community
or
to be wrong about. It might be inconvenient,
around
to
draw
the
boundaries
for
them
arbitrary
"us"

in a certain

but

way,

not

it is clearly

the

sort

of

issue there is an objective fact to be right or wrong


takes
of what the community
about, independent
to be (of course they can say
its own membership
false things about who is in their community?what
to our criteria is how they
is decisive according
behave

or

to

respond

the

various

So

candidates).

insofar as the distinction between the social and the


is to be drawn as we have suggested,
objective
one copes with
the
upon whether
depending
and
causal
in question
behavior
by
explanation
or

manipulation
while
genuine,

is

that

translation,
by
rather
social

than

distinction,
a

objective,

is treated by some
of how the behavior
how
it
is in itself.9 We will
rather
than
community

matter
have
between
section.

which
larger

some

more

to say

For

this way
issues

let

now,
we

about
and

translation

us

the

of approaching
are

crucial

explanation
the
notice

concerned

distinction
in

the

next

consequences

things has for the


with.

8
one gives of causal
the sort of explanation
in Knowledge and Human Interests (Boston,
1971 ) distinguished
Habermas,
J?rgen
is
of impersonal
that causal explanation
inference, while
interpretation
employs a "monologic"
"logically"?claiming
phenomena
comes to, the account
here of the
I am not sure what
this logical rendering
in character. While
developed
always "dialogic"
between
control
in many particulars with Habermas'
between
coincides
the social and objective
difference
story about the differences
and conversation.
9The
of the "intentional
stance"
the justification
of the adoption
of D. C. Dennett's
views about
(in
point here is reminiscent
A difference
is that social practices need not exhibit any
Intentional
Systems "The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 68 [1971], pp. 87-106).
in order for it appropriately
I have discussed elsewhere
"intentional"
character.
(see note 2) some of what is required of a social practice
a claim that something
is the case. I would
to be taken as making
of
the cogency
has argued
forcefully
against
J. F. Rosenberg
1975).
Linguistic Representation (Dordrecht,

in terms of social practices.


thus seek to account
for intentionality
in the opening
of his
the reverse order of explanation
chapters

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AMERICAN

192
If we
and

can make

causal

the distinction

between
as

stick

explanation

translation

to the same
responding
the
naturalism/non-naturalism
bypass

distinguishable
then
behavior,

we

norms

between

objective (factual,
account,
the

the

however,
order

normative
factual

treating

something.

is social

rather

in

The

than

it was

an

On

our

between

difference
social

two

and
of

ways

distinction

social/objective
If we

objective.10

the
and

practices
events

in objective
expressed
social
in
difference

is

facts

difference.

expressed

order

processes

and

descriptive)

now

norms

by

the difference
The

rather

difference

an

vicinity

According

someone

as

to

free

norms

the

insofar

He

objectively

norms

which

community.
to what
appeal
a candidate
about

behave

which

terms

is one

in
of us.

causes

the

of

rather
our

we
is no

it
for

toward

the

we

those who

treat

the

but

engage

it is how

they finally

free.11
objectively
a
is rather
misleading
of

between
our

own

facts

membership
On
Our
way

the way

this
talk

Reason

subject

manipulate
to norms
and

community,

taken to be a member

objective,
two
stances

that this notion

satisfactory
that
anything
can
and
also

account

that

by the

natural

we

course

involved

in

ideal

of

another's
utterance

that

as a part of the objective


not

least

(at

predictable

in

of

in

will

treating

we

where

situations

are

not

an

such

in

explanation
amount
certain

be

an

utterance

as

of

merely

there is no difficulty of principle. Less


anything can be treated as subject to the

But

obviously,

engaging

that

any

is

explanation

translate

presume

actually
capable
there
of causes,

become

That

events

given sufficient information about the


training, and recent environment of the

Of

norms

we

it was

that

order,

strain

in social

inherent
of

degree

strain.

or
oracle,
utterances.

it a social
by
we

simply
Thus

to be

record-changer
over. Of
course
in question
in a derivative

tree
as we
can

cases

we

must

a member
is only
second-class

in

strain

in

it as

consider
do

this

either

that of an

or

as

the

record

allow

that

of our

of our

ordinary

the
is
the

community
for it is not

fashion,

many

of
take

practices,

in those very well. This


translating

can

its performances
the groaning

and

in very

or

greater
rock

role, for instance


translating
can
take

in such

engaging

involved

or

the expression
of exhaustion,
us that
to be
telling

item

of

with

practices,
a
Thus

to norms
insofar
subject
in social
We
practices.

by giving

capable

not

need

other.

is a regulative

When

as
The

social.

causal

objective

also be explained

statistically)
physiology,

caused.

each

we

when
treated

as

treated

locatable
It

arguing.

science.

utterance

terms

be

of freedom

emerges
can
be

all

exclude

of an

capable

little

causal

at

spatio-temporally

principle

needs

speaker.
now

not

do

or even of engaging

community,

we

for doubting

of

in social practices with us, and the

things
or

community.

is a finally
remember

branch

community

objective

that matters.

the difference
members

to be
extended

candidate

is not
then, man
human
freedom

about

takes

the

by
to a

belonging

of being

the

those

constrained

Ill

lesser

the

than

practices,
There

unfree.

course

Of

translation,

by

granted

talking

via

subject
con?

practices

as he

him,

and

object,

can

about

in

him

of membership

insofar

him

own

view,

social

treat

fact of the matter concerning his freedom


we can appeal beyond the judgment
of

objective
to which
our

consider

the

constrain

an

as

as we

him

constrain

him

in the
someone's

treating

in

is free
with

cope

which
treat

ways

is the criterion

our

community.
as we
Insofar

of

to this line of thought, we

inherent

to which

formity

real distinction

The
two

behavior.

causes,

by

simply

of

cannot

difference.
objective
two "realms"
is not

these

one.

is between

an

than

between

ontological

than

being free and not being free

between

a social

becomes

rather

rest

toward

adopt

Being
of

set of

transfer

this account of the distinction


between the Realm
of Nature
(fact, description,
cause) and the Realm
of Freedom
back to
(norm, evaluation,
practice)
Kant's original suggestion that freedom consists in
constraint

we

causally.
is a matter

is a matter

dispute

about the relation of norm to fact. For both parties


to that dispute assumed
that if there were any
distinction

QUARTERLY

attitude

two

of

ways
can

PHILOSOPHICAL

is the

occurrences

rather than simply explaining


them, and no doubt
this strain is the reason we usually don't do this. But

10 It is a measure
ones that the possibility
of this sort of view would not come
of this idiom over more
traditional
of the superiority
or evaluation/description
as a norm/fact,
to say that
For what does itmean
distinction.
readily tomind so long as the issue is formulated
are not factual or descriptive,
And yet this is what we are claiming,
and evaluative?
in the specific
but normative
these distinctions
sense captured
rendering.
by the social/objective
11
It is rather a social matter,
and imaginary
that freedom
either.
is not merely
of course on this account
subjective
Though
some individual
takes it to be)
the social from both the subjective
and the criterial classification
(which is whatever
distinguishes
that this criterial classification
is itself
takes it to be). I have argued
it is regardless of how anyone
and the objective
(which is what
social

rather

than objective.

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AND

FREEDOM

are

there

line

border

as with

cases,

temperamental

and

cats,

infants,
of
force

The

automobiles.

the

claim

the social and the


the difference
between
in how they are treated by
objective is a difference
some community
(by us) rather than an objective
matter about which we could be right or wrong is
that differences in convenience of one kind or another
that

are

the

in

to be

differences

only
want

If we

to treat

tree

the

as

translated

its branches

here.

accommodated
one

like

utterances

social

the

are

and

clear

causal

the

criterial
ones.

to Kant's

tinction

He

account

any

regarded

by norms
as

insofar

abstractness

norms

involved,

formal

fact

of

linking

content
Kant

of

constraint

norms

is secured
formula?to

is to be one

dialectic

or

particularity

Hegel
sought
token-reflexive

a Kantian

of us. This

in

only

one

however.

necessary

the

of

presupposition

which

autonomy

is a

development

of

Communal

individual freedom. This latter, the freedom of the


artist and the genius, is not to be identified with the
former, the freedom of the peasant and the worthy
Pietist. Hegel
envisaged a higher form of positive
freedom
but

not

In

the

as
and
self-expression
to constraint
reducible
rest

of

this

paper

we

Bildung,

by communal
consider
such

enabled
norms.
a notion,

by

we

can

practices
not
does

be

balanced

which

are

simply

enable

the
("Pass
to
navigate

"Good

salt,"
the

most

fact

which has those


what
it is to be
concern

common

the

examine
at

of

shared

language

stock

expressions
so
so as
and
on)
situations
which

morning,"
social

and so on).

feeding, working,
are

conversation

the

rate,
of a new

any

creation

to use

sentences

the

of

to

is not

but with

of the individual. It is
to engage in the social

use
us

social

constitutes

of norms,

by

the

elicit them (communal


In

the

with

want

sets

con?

the

what

present

sort of "expressive freedom"


a striking fact that learning

that

sentences

make
that

our

up
have

never

been uttered before in the history of the language, as


Noam Chomsky
has forcefully pointed out.12 To
this

fact
of

is not

language

to

retreat

as a

set of

from
social

the
prac?

tices in our sense, since it is still the linguistic


which

munity
of

the

decides

social

we

some

whether

com?

sentence

novel

used or not. But we must not think


practices

of

judgments
the way
selective

agent
of the

side

possibility
constraint

of the
in

Our

particular,
that for some

sentences
in

as
in

linguistic

of such social constraint,

In

issue.

was
with

norms,

them.

from

govern

in the community
with
consequently
by

other.

vain

rational-moral

establishes

the

reference

of social and individual development


urges,

Hegel

the

by
be

norm

some

by

which

to empty
of

its

lead

which

before

these

of

the nature

with

our

take

concern

Our

activity.
dimension

will

the norms

of

is appropriately

in terms

to the purely

freedom

sort of cultural-historical

The

principles

content

the

ignores

we

above,

acknowledge
characterization

to Kant's

to be doomed
it

dis?

is constraint

of freedom

As

sideration

ordinary

features of con?

in it to the purely formal

of constraint

the

freedom

objected
Hegel
the norms
and

and

of Reason

involved

ontological
from
results

of the norm/fact
that

doctrine

is unattractive.

such

that

not

this explanation

norms
by
restriction

seen

have

objective,
which
of freedom

account

the

conjoining

duct.

are

classifications
But

we

once

other,

occurrences,

can
those differences
in objects treated one

it is equally clear how


generate criterial differences
or

the

translation

environing

and

way

and

between

of

therefore

in this way.

difference

differences

explanation

and

objective,
the
normative

itself a social

as

There

the

between

difference

the

factual,

and

*93

elaborated from Hegel's hints, but not intended


an exposition of the account presented by Hegel
his own original and ferocious idiom.

constrained

suggesting

courses of action, debating and justifying


the difficulty of finding a scheme which
then
these,
will make the tree sound sensible is the only obstacle.
It does not seem implausible to treat the difference
various

between

NORMS

membership
norms, and

the wind

of us,

BY

CONSTRAINT

governing
for

appropriateness
think
of
those

like "This
reinforcement

such

communal

novel

utterances
common

governing

as

is red",
of many
on

the product

different

of

utterances

of
that
various
occasions.13
very
expression
the language
to use a
is not just
Learning
learning
set of stock
sentences
uses
too.
which
else
everybody
One
has not
learned
the language,
has not
acquired
to engage
the capacity
in the social
which
practices
are
novel

use

the

of

the

language,
which
the

sentences

appropriate,
utterances

and
of

understand

other

members

until

one

can

produce
will
deem
community
the
novel
appropriate
of
the
community

(where the criterion for this capacity is the ability


to make
inferences deemed
by the
appropriate
This
emergent expressive capacity is
community).
the
We

essence
ought

of natural

languages.
to understand
this

creative

12
Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (Cambridge, Mass.,
1965), Chapter One.
13W. V.
in the first chapter of Word and Object (Cambridge,
Quine's
elephant
topiary example
i960), suggests
to see how his story is appropriate
to the former.
mind
the latter type of sentences exclusively,
for it is difficult

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aspect

that he has

of

in

PHILOSOPHICAL

AMERICAN

194

of a new

use as the paradigm

language
freedom,

expressive

one

When

freedom.

kind

of

has mastered

utterances.

One

becomes

framing new descriptions


an indefinite number
of
but
also
becomes
world,
intentions, and hence of
number
not

of novel

actions,

without

the

have

not

capable

of

only

of situations and making


the
novel claims about
new
of
forming
capable
an indefinite
performing
at

directed

one

ends

of

capacity

expressive

the

language. This is a kind of positive freedom, freedom


to do something
rather than freedom from some
constraint. For it is not as if the beliefs, desires, and
comes

one

intentions

to be

to express

able

one

when

acquires a suitable language have been there all the


time, hidden somehow "inside" the individual and
overt

from

kept

some

by

expression

a suitable

Without

sort of constraint.

cannot
have.
and
intentions
that one
desires,
simply
or a
we
cannot
to a
attribute
Thus
prelinguistic
dog
a certain
to prove
child
the
desire
conjectured

that our international

the belief

theorem,

needs

system

or

reform,

the

intention

the

is to

this

one

that

the

which
utterances
a

As
capacity
in the
novel

be

of

does

not

nor

appropriate
(as is always

because

case

social,

such
possible

the
an

constraint
open

texture

how

that
are

It is clear that not all sets of social practices,

the

sort

is generated
of social
lots
acceptable.

of

of

have

language?the

that

languages.

on

modelled

abstract

and

strained

by norms

So

an

as
of

use of

the creative
performances?

fact

by the

one

that

is

con?

in the social
is

i.e.

community,

the

account

(that one engages

some

of

we

to be constituted

formal

purely

in the

generate
can discern

novel

of

possibility

not take that freedom

will

will

term,

which

freedom

freedom

positive

to

given

expressive
natural
by

enabled

as

accepted

Not just constraint


doing so by some community).
kind of
by norms but constraint
by a particular
makes

individual

possible
as

different
between
vague
whose

or

think of that

state

to be

or

has

antecedently
Expressive

freedom consists in the generation of new possibilities


of performance which did not and could not exist

a set of

with

little

we

further,

vation

social

practices

see

the

as

part

of

in accord

of

process

social

becomes

practices

positive,
of culti?

are

practices

novel
produce
social
practices
as well.
as
For

of novel

capable

to judgments

subject
social

to
a set of

with

novel

community
new

individuals

of

capacity

(themselves

exercise

of the self and of the community.

[Bildung]
the

ness),

can

freedom

responses

of appropriate?
A

generated.

social

practice is defined as a respect of similarity evinced


by performances which do or would (under circum?
stances which must be specified whenever we specify
a particular practice) elicit some response from the
sets

Some
natural

by the fact
practice

in accord

performances

achieved

one has mastered,


is an ability which must be
exercised to be maintained.
Following Hegel's hint

community.

is and

does

merely

fact

freedom,

expressive

should we

Nor

envisaged.

performances
makes
possible

express
can

are

community

we

For

not objective

them?are

constitutive

performances

utterance

practices,
what
between

respond). No novelty

would
that

of

con?

social

division

a matter

to

is able

utterances

with

is not in accord with

constraint.

expressive

expressive
of fit
looseness

the boundaries

again
and
inappropriate
the

And

practices

on many

appropriate

free?

dom ismade possible only by constraint by norms,


that
and is not some way of evading or minimizing

freedom

expression
understand
novel

an

is constrained
Expressive

and enjoyed. Expressive freedom, as the capacity to


produce an indefinite number of novel appropriate

surpass

this

because

simply

or other,
norms.

language
of social

complex

as Hegel

of

in a

some

speaks

some

the

simply
One

norms.

"boundaries"?the

but

and

One

language.

to

social

freedom,

positive
consist

linguistically

what

freedom

the
acquire
to
produce
capacity
exhibits.

form

in

up

in the

inherent

the

monetary

community.
virtue
of being

norms

constraining
not
contents

occasions,

relevant

it is only
by
inherent

that

say

the
by
can

strained

the

of

satisfaction

as one
by

norms

Blake as a poet of the imagination. One comes to be


able to
able to do such things only by becoming
a
social
in
wide
of
variety
engage
practices, making
and inferences and offering justi?
discriminations
in question
the subject matter
fications concerning
to

make

acquires the freedom to believe, desire, and intend


the existence of novel states of affairs only insofar

practices

there are some beliefs,

language

which

practices

sense

could

of norms

the framework

outside
social

the social practices comprising the use of a language


sufficiently, one becomes able to do something one
could not do before, to produce and comprehend
novel

QUARTERLY

digmatically
novel
performances

ances
possible

hand,
comprise

social

languages,
on
the
part

and

practices

are made

possible

and

and
on

a child's

individuals
the

other,

marked
relative

and
thus

with
mastery

para

practices,
make

possible
who
those

of

possible

novel

Particular

practices.
the
social

fashion Hegel
Thus

social

in them, and these in turn make

participate
further

of

perform?
them
make

which
by

on

them,

the

one

the community

they

together

in a

develop

the term "dialectical."


of a natural

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language

AND

FREEDOM

first

makes

the

possible

hension

of

production
novel

appropriate

and

the child to submit to


in turn enables
capacity
such as govern
stricter social linguistic disciplines,
the criticism or production of literary works or legal
briefs. At the level of the community, new disciplines
are founded by the novel productions of individuals
?the

social

which

practices

comprise

or

a scientific

in this way, and


academic discipline are produced
and their
make possible further novel performances
an individual
of
The
self-cultivation
appreciation.
in

consists

the

and

exercise

of

expansion

novel

ways,

one

intentions

or

the

acquire
express
not

could

arts

in

whether

to

in order

in,
in

sports.

to per?
and

capacity
desires,
even

beliefs,

in the development
of new sets
community
of social practices, at once the result of individual
novel
self-cultivation
performances
(producing
consists

make

formances

possible
of a group

"culture"

they

responses
new
social

to other
practices)

per?
and

of it. It is in this sense that we speak of

the condition
the

as

institutionalized

which,

as

the

set of

social

practices

in.14

engage

to specify in advance the


sets of social
different

It is clearly not possible


of
capacities
expressive
instance

for

practices,

in an

attempt

to compare

two

languages
dialectical

For the peculiar


along this dimension.
of expressive
pattern of development

capacities

itself

continually

creates

novel

expressive

dimensions by making possible desires and intentions


which
could not operate at earlier stages in the
of a particular
individuals

cultivation
Self-cultivating
veloping
dialectic

will

their
of

expressive
shared
practice

accordingly

account

than will

for

in

or individual.
community
de?
and
communities,
to this
according
capacities
and novel
performance

be a great deal more


terms

of

objective

social practices which

to

difficult

causal

don't make

own

our

into

novel

performance-types.

ference15

assumes

practices
does

(this

such

proportions

to treat it as a qualitative

that it is plausible

not,

of

course,

dif?

that

entail

we

take it as an objective difference rather than as a


social difference of how things are treated which is
of discovering
based on the objective
difficulty
accounts.

causal

norms,

have,
the
of

previously
The
cultivation

of

We

after

are,

familiar

all,

with objective processes which generate new types


of behavior.) Expressive freedom is thus a species of
the Kantian
genus of freedom as constraint
by

freedom by subjecting oneself to the novel discipline


of a set of social practices one could not previously
engage
form

I95

in convenience
difference
the quantitative
Here
behavior
between
with
by treating it as
coping
a
and
causal
and
explanation
seeking
objective
a
as
of
it
translation
it
social
and
seeking
treating

adequate

expressive

NORMS

numbers

indefinite

compre?
This

utterances.

BY

CONSTRAINT

processes

possible

and

specification
notion.

general

of

supplementation

that

I want to make by way of


suggestion
of talking about human
this
way
recommending
freedom, both individual and social, is to note the
sort of legitimation of political and social constraint
and some of his
it makes possible. Hegel
which
admirers (notably Marx and T. H. Green) rejected
account of justification of
the liberal enlightenment
constraint of the individual by social and political
in the
institutions which had found that justification
extent to which social organization made possible
final

The

the

individual

of

satisfaction

greater

wants,

con?

sidered as fixed and specifiable in abstraction from


the individual participates
the sort of community
in. The Hegelian
tradition was acutely aware of the
debt which an individual's desires owe to his com?
but did not wish to succumb entirely to
munity,
the antidemocratic
and anti-individualist
impli?
cations

of

paramount.

an

account
The

which

general

the

made
form

of

their

community
resolution

can be reproduced
in less
of this dilemma, which
terms in the idiom of social practices,
metaphysical
is this. Constraint of the individual by the social and
norms

political
may

be

legitimate

inherent
insofar

in
as

communal
that

constraint

practices
makes

14
individual
three sorts of sub-structure:
culture in this way, we may distinguish
traditions, and institutions.
repertorys,
Defining
in
all those he is capable of engaging
of social practices
has a repertory
of the community
individual member
comprising
at
insofar as it is different
time. Such a repertory has a history,
to) at a particular
according
performances
appropriate
(producing
a particular
in them. The practices which
human being who engages
have in common
one time than at another. Those practices
in by
is a tree structure whose nodes are sets of social practices
make up a tradition share a common
engaged
ancestry. A tradition
are the transmission or training to engage
branches
and
whose
not
entire
his
individual
individuals
node,
repertory)
per
perhaps
(one
at any time of individuals
and sub-sets of their current
is then composed
in the social practices are transformed. A social institution
relation.
of those roles in their mutual
is the evolution
of the institution
repertorys which are their institutional roles. The development
15
causal explanation
and
between
to identify the difference
we
matter
it
is
cannot
the
objective
here,
plausible
pursue
Although
one or the other stance is the appearance
of dialectical
of social practices
translation
development
(where the criterion for adopting
of the last century perceived
which
neo-Kantians
the difference
freedom as described
of expressive
above) with
by the cultivation
features of the natural and cultural sciences respectively
the methods
of Erkl?rung and Verstehen, which were the distinguishing
between
between
the difference
think of as codifying
things which have natures and things which have histories).
(and which we might
Each

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PHILOSOPHICAL

AMERICAN

196

an expressive freedom
possible for the individual
which is otherwise impossible for him. Creative self
is possible only by means of the discipline
cultivation
as
social
of the
practices which constrain one, just
the

of

production

poem

not

requires

sub?

only

to the exigencies of a shared language, but


mission
the stricter discipline of the poetic tradition as well.
must

One

and

all,

some
speak
the production

to say
language
and
comprehension
a

requires

performances

anything
of novel
shared

of

background

insofar
of the

constraint. Political constraint is illegitimate


as it is not in the service of the cultivation

To

this

say

political

It does

questions

so much

is not

who

are

constrained

to present

by

theory

as

the form of a theory, a way of talking about


an
and human
freedom,
legitimation

to present
idiom.

those

of

freedom

expressive
it.

at

about

University

16 I would

not,

for

trade-offs

instance,
between

even

begin
different

to settle

QUARTERLY

these

from

Utopia

abstractly

evaluate

to

the kinds

cording
freedom

and

self-cultivation

account,

and

that

novelty

helpful

quality

of

ac?

expressive

enable

they

in

can

institutions

political

and

principle

en?

and

of novel
in this
escapes

and prediction by a priori theorizing.


classification
The idiom of expressive freedom is useful, insofar
as it is useful, for those caught up in the dialectic of
of shared
and communal
individual
cultivation,
practice
control

and
possible

novel

performance,
in practice
changes

to
within

reflectively
a concrete

situation. The value of this idiom, as of any other,


in the possibilities
for novel expression
consists
and
which it engenders, by way of comprehending
this
dialectical
process.16
directing

varieties

Received

the many

nor

considerations,

the production
courage. For it is precisely
is admired
which
possibilities
expressive

of Pittsburgh

like to acknowledge

For one cannot

freedom.

and positive

of negative
project
one

comments

Richard

Rorty

and Annette

Baier

July

kindly

provided

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23, 1978

on an earlier

version.