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)
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)
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)
The author attempts to provide a characterization of statements which will avoid the twin perils of identifying them with sentences per se or with such non?observable entities as ?propositions?, ?meanings? etc. In providing a positive account of the sorts of things statements are, he distinguishes between the utterances of sentences, and. sentences per se, and maintains that statements are to be identified with those utterances made in certain kinds of circumstances. In the light of this analysis, it is then argued (...) that who or what the speaker refers to in the course of making a statement does not form part of the circumstances which determine what statement he is making, nor does it form part of the circumstances which determine whether he is making the same or different statements by the words he uses. (shrink)
The problem of universals, at least in its modern form, often begins from questions which seem, in principle, decidable by the sorts of experimental procedures carried on in descriptive semantics, or in applied linguistics. These are questions about the role which pronouns, common nouns, adjectives etc. play in natural languages. But these apparently scientific questions are interpreted by philosophers in ways which give rise to metaphysical conundrums ? to problems which arc not in principle decidable. The paper traces some of (...) the factors which impel philosophers to interpret these questions in the way they do. The author's thesis is that questions about the roles which linguistic expressions play are often interpreted as questions about the meaning of these words, and these, in turn, are thought to be questions asking for the identification of differing sorts of objects in the universe (e. g., particulars, universals). The author attempts to show in detail why such interpretations of ordinary questions are improper. (shrink)