Rule-following, explanation-transcendence, and private language

Mind 117 (466):303-328 (2008)
Abstract
I examine what I take to be an important consideration for the later Wittgenstein: the understanding of a rule does not exceed or transcend an understanding of explanations or instructions in the rule. I contend that this consideration plays a central role in the later Wittgenstein's views on rule-following. I first show that it serves as a key premiss in a sceptical argument concerning our ability to follow rules. I then argue that this consideration is vital to Wittgenstein's case against what I describe as a realist view of rules. This realist view requires that our understanding of a rule extend beyond what can be understood from any set of instructions or explanation. For Wittgenstein, because this is to transcend publicly available means of conveying understanding, this realist's understanding is a private understanding. He calls this private source of understanding an ‘intuition’ and the main line of argument against intuition in our understanding of a rule draws, appropriately, on what is called his ‘private language argument’. In this paper, I defend a non-verificationist reading of this argument and its use against the realist so-construed. CiteULike    Connotea    Del.icio.us    What's this?
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