The Rational Constraint Condition prevents an infinite regress of representings standing in relation to other representings as a means of justifying the relation between representing and represented or thing in itself. The Rational Constraint Condition (RCC) is the pragmatic force (i.e., beyond the semantic) that says/shows—makes explicit—the relation between representings and representeds; “representings are responsible to what they represent.” That is, the RCC permits a represented to exercise “a distinctive kind of authority over representings” without infinite regress between the latter.

The rational constraint condition comes by way of reciprocal recognition between individuals, where inferences are drawn “by individuals practically taking or treating one another as authoritative and (so) responsible.” One holds another accountable for her claim via pragmatic metavocabularies that define what one must DO in order to count as SAYING something, and what one must SAY in order to count as DOING something.

My interest in Brandom’s brilliant work is twofold:

(1) to consider the role of informational and communication technologies in this inferential relation as there would seem to be some amplification of the inferential act, of meaning-making, via inferences drawn across, say, social media in real-time and through time—counterfactually—where assessments give new normative status to past contingencies or prior conceptual contents.

(2) Brandom’s reading of Hegelian (and Sellarian) inferentialism would seem to provide a narrow epistemology undeveloped in materialist accounts of meaning, specifically Marx’s. This epistemology would show, for example, financialization’s normative status, why one believes one ought to engage in risk beyond the material necessity of having to do so.

“Peirce denies a thing in itself in the sense of transcendental philosophy, a reality that affects our senses while yet merely appearing under the transcendental conditions of possible objectivity and thus unknowable as such. The predicate ‘real’ has no explicable meaning apart from states of facts about which we can make true statements.”

—Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests

Roma (2018) is a beautiful film, yes? But Cleo, the family maid and nanny, labors like a dog throughout—“Clean up the shit”—and the film ultimately buries that exploitative relation in sentimentality, that is, through the familiar bourgeois lesson that the maid, too, is one of the family. Even the sisterhood that comes when Cleo’s boss’ husband leaves the family—“All women are alone”—is part of that strategy. So I think one has to ask whether Roma’s unobtrusive camera eye on Mexican daily life sacrifices class critique for family romance (director Cuarón’s, if not Cleo’s).