In this paper, I focus on the notion of expressive completeness in Robert Brandom’s Making It Explicit. For Brandom as a normative pragmatist, a theory of meaning is expressively complete if it specifies a human practice that is sufficient to confer on expressions conceptual contents so rich that the very conferring practice can be described by means of these expressions. I put the notion of expressive completeness in contrast with the related, but non-identical notion of self-referentiality of a semantic theory. Further, I examine the position of the concept in Brandom’s philosophical project: I assess the justification Brandom provides for his claim of expressive completeness of the presented theory, and I outline the consequences he can draw for his overall project provided that expressive completeness is achieved. Whether it is actually achieved, remains however an open question.
Expressive completeness, normative pragmatism, Robert Brandom, self-referentiality, theory of meaning