From section 3 of the epilogue to Brandom's Between Saying and Doing:
"One constant in Wittgenstein's thought, early and late, is his denial of methodologically monistic scientism[, the idea that the only way knowledge can be gotten is the way the natural sciences, especially physics, give us knowledge]. "Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences," he says in the Tractatus, and this view seems to be part of what lies behind the theoretical quietism of the later work. In fact, I think Wittgenstein thinks that if systematic philosophical theorizing were possible, it would mean that philosophy is an empirical science. Since it is not, philosophers must eschew theorizing, restricting themselves instead to light, local descriptions of discursive practices, where such descriptions might provide helpful reminders in freeing ourselves from the sorts of misunderstandings and puzzlements that arise precisely from the theories implicit in inherited pictures of what is going on when we talk and think. Whether or not Wittgenstein himself reasoned in this way, I take it that it is common for his admirers to see him as presenting us with a forced choice: either embrace scientism about philosophy of the methodologically monistic sort -- that is, take philosophy to be an empirical, scientific discipline -- or give up the idea of systematic philosophical theorizing once and for all.I've bolded the part that struck me; I've quoted the rest for context, and because I liked the passage.
I think this is a false choice. Rejecting scientism of the methodologically monistic sort does not entail giving up the possibility of systematic philosophical theorizing about discursive practice.... I want to claim that what is objectionable about the methodologically monistic form of scientism is its exclusivity. Rejecting that at least leaves open the question of whether, and which, features of natural scientific investigation, explanation, knowledge, and understanding ought also to be counted among those useful and appropriate in philosophy. After all, description is also a central and essential element of scientific methodology, and even the most rigorous versions of Wittgensteinian quietism allow philosophers to describe features of our linguistic practices.
My initial response to Brandom's hypothetical was to agree: Wittgenstein probably did think something like this. The natural sciences (including the social sciences) are engaged in theory-building, hypothesis testing, etc.; philosophy doesn't do this sort of thing (and when it tries to, it does so out of confusion). But it's a weird counterfactual. You have to imagine that what Wittgenstein took philosophy to be also involved what Wittgenstein categorically thought philosophy was not. Tricky business, if you can manage it at all.
After thinking about it a bit more, I'm inclined to say that Brandom skips over the therapeutic nature of Wittgensteinian philosophy -- therapeutic is opposed to constructive in roughly the way quietistic is opposed to theorizing, after all. It's not just that Wittgenstein doesn't give general accounts with theoretically posited entities as explananda; it's that he's not interested in doing that, even if it is possible. Or rather, stronger than that: even if Wittgensteinian philosophy does provide general accounts, with theoretical posits, the point of doing so is to ease some antecedently felt philosophical tension. To keep us from feeling obliged to answer other sorts of philosophical questions, Wittgensteinian philosophy asks and answers questions of its own. (The questions may be rhetorical, the answers obvious. But they are still posed, and they have right and wrong answers. And the therapy can misfire if the questions become points for debate, when they were supposed to be anodyne.) So he's wrong to think that Wittgenstein thinks there's a forced choice between anti-theoretical "quietism" and scientism. (To be fair, he hedges his claims here. But he seems to do so not because he's unsure that they do justice to his understanding of Wittgenstein, but because he wants to avoid offending those who read him differently.)
In any case, I thought his discussion of the issues was interesting. It's a good epilogue.