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The Intentional Spectrum and Intersubjectivity

Phenomenology and the Pittsburgh Neo-Hegelians

Michael D. Barber

Publication Year: 2011

World-renowned analytic philosophers John McDowell and Robert Brandom, dubbed “Pittsburgh Neo-Hegelians,” recently engaged in an intriguing debate about perception. In The Intentional Spectrum and Intersubjectivity Michael D. Barber is the first to bring phenomenology to bear not just on the perspectives of McDowell or Brandom alone, but on their intersection. He argues that McDowell accounts better for the intelligibility of empirical content by defending holistically functioning, reflectively distinguishable sensory and intellectual intentional structures. He reconstructs dimensions implicit in the perception debate, favoring Brandom on knowledge’s intersubjective features that converge with the ethical characteristics of intersubjectivity Emmanuel Levinas illuminates.

Phenomenology becomes the third partner in this debate between two analytic philosophers, critically mediating their discussion by unfolding the systematic interconnection among perception, intersubjectivity, metaphilosophy, and ethics.

Published by: Ohio University Press

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pp. ix-xvi

Over the last twenty years the University of Pittsburgh has been the site of some of the most exciting philosophical work in the world. Drawing inspiration from the work of Wilfrid Sellars, his successors in the Pittsburgh Philosophy Department, John McDowell and Robert Brandom, have sought to realize his legacy and debated its significance. Both McDowell and Brandom ...

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1. The Debate about Perception: Inferentialism, Representationalism, and Intelligible Empirical Content

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pp. 1-18

As promised in the preface, I will discuss in these first two chapters the debate between John McDowell and Robert Brandom about perception under three foci: representationalism versus inferentialism, the intelligibility of empirical content, and rational constraint. These issues will frame the structure of these two chapters, and in each case I will exposit what is involved in the issue...

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2. The Debate about Perception: Rational Constraint, Phenomenology, and Interiorization

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pp. 19-44

This chapter discusses two other issues arising in the perception debate: rational constraint and interiorization. Though the earlier issue of inferentialism and representationalism appeared squarely in the first stage of the debate, and the issue of intelligible empirical content straddled both the first and last stages of the debate, the issue of rational constraint lies clearly in the second ...

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3. The Fullness of Perception

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pp. 45-86

Having concurred with John McDowell’s position as opposed to Robert Brandom’s on the intelligibility of empirical content and the constraint it exercises on empirical judgment, I will now consider two other aspects of McDowell’s account of our relationship with the world: namely, his defense of realism against skepticism through his disjunctivist view of perception and his opposition to ...

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4. Tradition and Discourse, I-We and I-Thou: McDowell and Brandom on Intersubjectivity

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pp. 87-128

In examining the debate on perception between Robert Brandom and John McDowell, one issue appears interwoven throughout that debate and central to each of their differing systematic approaches, an issue that has been a basic one in the phenomenological tradition since its inception. This issue, the role of intersubjective relationships in knowledge, needs to be thematized in its...

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5. McDowell's Wittgensteinian Quietism

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pp. 129-152

One cannot really understand John McDowell’s position on intelligible empirical content in contrast to Robert Brandom’s views on perception, unless one understands their broader philosophies of philosophy, that is, McDowell’s Wittgensteinian quietism and Brandom’s approach to discourse in terms of a normative pragmatics and inferential semantics. Consequently, ...

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6. Self-Reflectivity, Radical Reflection, and Consciousness: Brandom’s Philosophy of Philosophy

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pp. 153-184

At numerous points in the preceding chapters, I have remarked on the importance of Robert Brandom’s theoretical stance (his self-reflective approach to discourse) and I have indicated how his approach to philosophy (his philosophy of philosophy) underpins his opposition to John McDowell in their whole debate on perception and his views on intersubjectivity. At this point, ...

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7. The Levels of Ethics

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pp. 185216-233

My discussion throughout this book, with the possible exception of chapter 4, section 4, has been predominantly an epistemological one, with the first three chapters dealing with the debate between McDowell and Brandom about perception and setting the stage for what follows insofar as their discussions of perception are intimately intertwined with their views on role ...

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8. Phenomenology, the Intentional Spectrum, and Intersubjectivity

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pp. 217-258

I have repeatedly relied on phenomenological analyses to mediate the debates between John McDowell and Robert Brandom or to criticize or support various aspects of their thought. I have argued that McDowell’s account of perception and intelligible empirical content is better than Brandom’s, though I have elaborated that account through phenomenological analyses. Whereas ...


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pp. 259-304


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pp. 305-318


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pp. 319-326

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443682
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821419618

Publication Year: 2011