Wittgenstein, Truth-Functions, and Generality

Although it is eommon to attribute to Wittgenstein in the Tractatus a treatment of general propositions as equivalent to eonjunctions and disjunctions of instance propositions, the evidence for this is not perfeetly clear. This article considers Wittgenstein’s comments in 5.521, which can be read as rejecting such a treatment. It argues that properly situating the Tractatus historically allows for a revised reading of 5.521 and other parts of the Tractatus relevant to Wittgenstein’s theory of generality. The result is that 5.521 does not conflict with the view that general propositions are truth-functions of instance propositions. Common problems with such a view are to some extent obviated by the fact that Wittgenstein, following Russell and Moore, was not concerned with a syntactically defined language, but with propositions conceived as independent of a fixed language
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DOI 10.5840/jpr_1995_27
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