Wherefore the Failure of Private Ostension?

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):483 - 498 (2011)
?258 of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is often seen as the core of his private language argument. While its role is certainly overinflated and it is a mistake to think that there is anything that could be called the private language argument, ?258 is an important part of the private language sections of the Philosophical Investigations. As with so much of Wittgenstein's work, there are widely diverse interpretations of why exactly the private diarist's attempted ostensive definition fails. I argue for a version of the no-stage-setting interpretation of the failure of private ostension. On this interpretation, the reason why the diarist cannot establish a meaning for ?S? is that she lacks the conceptual-linguistic stage-setting needed to disambiguate the concentration of her attention (the private analogue of an ostensive definition). Thus, the problem with any subsequent use of ?S? is not that there is no criterion of correctness for remembering the meaning of ?S? correctly, or for re-identifying S correctly in the future. Rather, it is because of the initial failure to define ?S? that there is nothing that could count as a criterion of correctness for the future use of ?S?; there is nothing to remember or re-identify. My argument for the no-stage-setting interpretation consists in showing how well it fits into the rest of the Philosophical Investigations and in defending it against objections from Robert J. Fogelin, Anthony Kenny, and most recently John V. Canfield. Kenny's and Canfield's objections are found to suffer from problems regarding memory scepticism
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2010.495131
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Stewart Candlish, The Identity Theory of Truth. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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