The paper deals with Wittgenstein’s treatment of radical skepticism. He holds from his earliest work to his last that skepticism is senseless and therefore no rebuttal, such as G.E. Moore offered, is necessary.
The early formal logicians (Frege, Russell, Peano et al.) were worried about differentiating logic from psychology. As a result, they interpreted logic in the most abstract way possible: as a theory about inference patterns whose terms lacked descriptive content. Such a theory was also acontextual. What they did not realize was that psychological concepts like expecting someone, doubting, pain etc. each had their own logic, a logic that had two features: it was contextually oriented and its concepts had a restricted (...) sensible application. This is still a recognizable sense of logic but broader in scope than the conceptions that Frege and Russell had in mind. (shrink)
The article describes and attempts to resolve a problem that arises for interpreters, translators, teachers, linguists, literary critics, and lawyers. Professional interpreters, for example, see themselves as the impartial transmitters of messages. Their dilemma notably arises in legal contexts when judges and prosecutors use language that is technical and belongs to a political system whose traditions are unfamiliar to defendants. In an effort to explain what such concepts as 'habeas corpus' and 'taking the fifth amendment' mean to Spanish-speaking monoglots, for (...) example, interpreters may become independent voices sending a nuanced version of the original message to its recipients. In such cases, and for other reasons, they may breach the principle of impartiality. The dilemma arises through a seeming incompatibility between two principles essential to impartial interpretation: the need neutrally to transmit a message and the need to communicate the content of a message in such a way as to make it comprehensible to an alien auditor. The author argues that these principles are not necessarily inconsistent. Thus whether an interpreter has deviated from the ideal of impartiality can only be decided on a case-by-case basis. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy is difficult to define since it is not so much a specific doctrine as a loose concatenation of approaches to problems. As well as having strong ties to scientism -the notion that only the methods of the natural sciences give rise to knowledge -it also has humanistic ties to the great thinkers and philosophical problems of the past. Moreover, no single feature characterizes the activities of analytic philosophers. Undaunted by these difficulties, Avrum Stroll investigates the "family resemblances" between (...) that impressive breed of thinkers known as analytic philosophers. In so doing, he grapples with the point and purpose of doing philosophy: What is philosophy? What are its tasks? What kind of information, illumination, and understanding is it supposed to provide if it is not one of the natural sciences? Imbued with clarity, liveliness, and philosophical sophistication, Strolls book presents a synoptic picture of the main developments in logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics in the past century. It does this by concentrating on the individual thinkers whose ideas have been most influential. Major themes in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy include: - the innovation of mathematical logic by Gottlob Frege at the close of the nineteenth century and its independent development by Bertrand Russell; - the impact of advancements in science on the world of philosophy and its importance for understanding such doctrines as logical positivism, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and eliminative materialism; - the refusal by such thinkers as Wittgenstein, Moore, and Austin to treat logic as an ideal language superior to natural languages; and - a conjecture about which, if any, of the philosophers discussed in the book will enter the pantheon of philosophical gods. Along the way, Stroll also covers the theories of Rudolf Carnap, W. V. O. Quine, Gilbert Ryle, J. L. Austin, Hilary Putnam, Saul Kripke, John Searle, Ruth Marcus, and Patricia and Paul Churchland. Strolls approach to his subject treats the critical movements in analytic philosophy in terms of the philosophers who defined them. The notoriously complex realm of analytic philosophy emerges less as an abstract enterprise than as a domain of personalities and their competing methods and arguments. The books inventive presentations of complex logical doctrines relate them to the traditional problems of philosophy, seeking the continuity between them rather than polemical distinctions so as to bring the true differences of their respective achievements into sharper focus. - "Journal of the History of Philosophy". (shrink)
According to a widely accepted conceptual model, principles play essential roles in moral reasoning: it is asserted that they hold universally and cannot be avoided in the justification of human action and belief. This paper challenges that view. It argues that, though some principles play such substantive roles, most do not. They can be characterized instead as being fragile or defeasible, i.e., they are capable of being weakened, voided or undone. The claim is made that it is the pressures exerted (...) by particular cases of moral dilemmas that are the sources of such fragility. The paper contains detailed examples illustrating how the process of defeasibility, including a retreat into moral vacuity, arises from such pressures. (shrink)
Ludwig Wittgenstein's On Certainty was finished just before his death in 1951 and is a running commentary on three of G.E. Moore's greatest epistemological papers. In the early 1930s, Moore had written a lengthy commentary on Wittgenstein, anticipating some of the issues Wittgenstein would discuss in On Certainty. The philosophical relationship between these two great philosophers and their overlapping, but nevertheless differing, views is the subject of this book. Both defended the existence of certainty and thus opposed any form of (...) skepticism. However, their defenses and conceptions of certainty differed widely, as did their understanding of the nature of skepticism and how best to combat it. Stroll's book contains a careful and critical analysis of their differing approaches to a set of fundamental epistemological problems. (shrink)
The human mind remains a mystery despite the best efforts of philosophers to understand it. Each person knows that he/she has a mind, regards it as something internal, and is aware of its operations. Yet nobody knows what it is. The reason why the mind is so puzzling turns on three of its features: its invisibility while operating, the unique access which its proprietor has to it, and the inability to give a clear meaning to the polar notions of 'internal-external' (...) when applied to it. This last feature makes it obvious that no computer or A.I. based analogies, or any forms of functionahsm, provide adequate models for understanding its nature. (shrink)
J.J. Gibson claims that one who is looking at Niagara Falls is seeing it directly, whereas one who is looking at a picture of Niagara Falls is seeing it indirectly or mediately. Gibson's cognitivist critics claim that all perception is mediated and that "external objects" are never seen directly. Each side takes the debate to be a scientific issue. But following Wittgenstein's "nose" for detecting philosophical intrusions into what do not appear to be philosophical debates, the author shows how such (...) elements play a decisive role in influencing the character of the argument. When the issue is seen from this perspective it can also be seen why both sides are mistaken in their claims. (shrink)
Most philosophers believe that the Liar Paradox is semantical in character, and arises from difficulties in the predicate “true.” The author argues that the paradox is pragmatic, not semantic, and arises from violations of essential conditions that define statement-making speech acts. The author shows that his solution to the paradox will not only handle the classical Liar sentences that are “necessarily” or “intrinsically” paradoxical, but also sets of Kripke-sentences that are “contingently” paradoxical.
The paper attempts to do two things: (1) to give a detailed account of what conditions must be satisfied by theories that hold some knowledge to be more fundamental than the rest, And (2) it asks, And answers affirmatively, Whether there is such a foundationalist account in wittgenstein's "on certainty".
In the philosophical and psychological literature of the twentieth century, the concept of a surface plays a pervasive and important role, mostly in connection with theories of perception. The author argues that the concept has interesting logical and ontological uses as well. The focus of the paper is on the question of whether surfaces are real ingredients in the world, and the argument of the paper is that, under certain construals, they are.
Foundationalism, the idea that there is a basic kind of knowledge which is ground-level and hence beyond proof or justification, is one of the oldest themes in philosophy. It has been held by such great philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Wittgenstein and Moore inter alia\ but exactly what they mean by "foundationalism" is seldom carefully or fully articulated. This paper attempts to give such an explication. It holds that a foundationalist theory must satisfy at least nine conditions, vagueness, stratification, (...) nondependence, particularism or methodism, publicity, negational absurdity, absorption, certitude, and the concept of 'standing fast', the last idea deriving from Wittgenstein's On Certainty. (shrink)
In Parts I, II, and III of the paper, the authors show that an argument essential to Alan White's defense of the Correspondence Theory of truth is unsuccessful. They argue that some of the premises of White's argument are false, and others incoherent. They show, further, that certain widely accepted assumptions in the philosophy of language, which underlie White's argument, must also be abandoned. In Part IV, they attempt to say something new about 'true', 'false', truth and falsity, and related (...) notions. They do not offer a competing theory to White's, but instead stress features of the use of these words and concepts which philosophers have either ignored or insufficiently emphasized. (shrink)
Professor sard states that russell's response to ronald searle rests on a fallacy. Russell states that he dreamt of one thing not in heaven or earth, While searle says that there are more things in heaven than russell dreamt of. Stroll argues that sard's interpretation of the phrase "there are more things in heaven than are dreamed of" is mistaken. Russell interprets this to mean that taking a to be the set of all things capable of being dreamed of in (...) heaven or earth, It is possible to dream of another thing--The class of all those classes that are not members of themselves--Which does not exist in a. (shrink)