We professors tell our students that it is important to think and write clearly. No doubt it is. But this can be frustrating advice to receive. After all, presumably no students think that fuzzy thinking and fuzzy writing are better than the alternative. The hard thing is to tell the difference. What, exactly, is one supposed to do in order to think or write more clearly?. . .
Thinking clearly is a matter of knowing, for each claim that you make, what else you are committing yourself to by making it, what you are ruling out, and what would be evidence for or against it. . . . Of course, you may be mistaken about what really does follow from your claims. But that is just a mistake. So long as you are sure what you take to follow from and be evidence for your claim, your mistaken thought is at least clear.
And writing clearly is giving your reader enough clues that she can tell what you mean to be committing yourself to by the claims you make, what you would take to be evidence for or against them, what follows from them, and what they preclude. And once again, this is something you can check for yourself when writing, by asking yourself, for each important consequence you take to follow from one of your claims, how your reader is supposed to know that you take it to be a consequence: what clues have you given to that effect?
(Reason in Philosophy, p. 173; paragraphing mine)
Brandom loves him some italics, but his advice is sound. I only wish more professors would practice what they preach!
p.s. In case you hadn't noticed, the "Books" page now contains brief notes on books finished--not just a thematic list. Just so you know.