Two meanings of ” depends on ” that are easily conflated.
|Kind of reference||Sense||Reference|
|Meaning of ” depends on ”||you can’t understand unless you understand||you can’t have existing without existing|
|Flavor of dependence||Epistemological||Ontological|
Robert Brandom points out that we can have sense dependence without having reference dependence.
Response-dependent properties, e.g. a toy concept of beauty: ” is beautiful if looking at it elicits pleasure in people.”
- This is asserting a sense dependence of beauty on people, but not a reference dependence.
- It is intelligible that there could exist beautiful sunsets before there ever were people in the world, or if people never existed.
“Parent” and “child” are both reciprocally sense- and reference- dependent.
This is the difference between Berkeley’s idealism and Kant’s transcendental idealism. When someone claims the lawfulness of a relation between two properties is a feature of our cognitive faculties, it makes a big difference whether this is a sense or reference dependence claim.
- Without understanding what it is for you to follow a rule / to infer from , you can’t understand the lawfulness that you’re taking the world to have.
- This does not entail a reference dependence.