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Summary To a first approximation a private language would be a language that only one person can understand, perhaps as a matter of necessity. Many philosophers have thought that there couldn't be such a language, that any meaningful language must be such that, at least in principle, more than one person could understand it. The main source for arguments against the possibility of private languages has been Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, although it remains a matter of controversy precisely what Wittgenstein aimed to show, what his arguments were, and whether those arguments were successful. More recent work has attempted to articulate in more detail than Wittgenstein arguments for and against the possibility of private languages. A further issue concerns what the consequences would be if it were demonstrated that private languages are not possible. Would it, for example, have consequences for the nature of experience, or its effability?
Key works Wittgenstein 2009 Includes Wittgenstein's seminal discussion of issues about the possibility of private languages. It is a matter of controversy precisely where the core discussion takes place. Kripke 1982 Very important presentation by Saul Kripke of a line of argument against the possibility of private languages based on Wittgenstein's discussion. Wright 1984 Important critical discussion of Kripke's argument and his interpretation of Wittgenstein. Baker & Hacker 1984 Another important critical discussion of Kripke. Ayer & Rhees 1954 Early discussion of issues about whether there could be private languages. Bar-On 1992 Useful discussion of the possibility of solitary, as opposed to private language, and of the relations between the two issues.
Introductions Candlish 2008 Craig 1997
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175 found
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  1. added 2020-06-03
    Symposium: Can There Be a Private Language?A. J. Ayer & R. Rhees - 1954 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes( 28:63-94.
  2. added 2019-08-18
    A Critique of Saul Kripke's "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language".Chrysoula Gitsoulis - 2008 - Dissertation, Graduate Center, City University of New York
    In Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke presents a controversial skeptical argument, which he attributes to Wittgenstein’s interlocutor in the Philosophical Investigations [PI]. The argument purports to show that there are no facts that correspond to what we mean by our words. Kripke maintains, moreover, that the conclusion of Wittgenstein’s so-called private language argument is a corollary of results Wittgenstein establishes in §§137-202 of PI concerning the topic of following-a-rule, and not the conclusion of an independently developed argument (...)
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  3. added 2019-06-06
    The Inner Word Prior to Language: Augustine as Platonist Alternative to Gadamerian Hermeneutics.Phillip Cary - 2011 - Philosophy Today 55 (2):192-198.
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  4. added 2019-06-06
    Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations §§243–315 – By Stephen Mulhall. [REVIEW]Steven Hall - 2008 - Philosophical Investigations 31 (3):272-280.
  5. added 2019-06-06
    Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, §§ 143–315 ‐ By Stephen Mulhall. [REVIEW]John Troyer - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (4):383-384.
  6. added 2019-06-06
    Wittgenstein Sans the Private Language Argument.Stephen Thornton - 1996 - Cogito 10 (1):28-34.
    This paper explores Wittgenstein’s account of the semantic differences between the two uses of 'I' in the Blue Book, arguing that, independently of the private language argument, it undermines substance dualism while demonstrating the philosophical misconceptions upon which it is based.
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  7. added 2019-06-06
    Critical Notice: Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1985 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 15 (1):103-109.
  8. added 2019-06-06
    Language and Being in Wittgenstein’s ‘Philosophical Investigations’. [REVIEW]W. B. H. - 1975 - Review of Metaphysics 29 (1):144-145.
    Price’s chief interest in this study of the Investigations is the origin of speaking. A review of Wittgenstein’s examinations of logic, pictures, rules of use, and mental processes as proposed standards of meaning shows that no determinate standard such as these can explain the origin of speaking. Wittgenstein’s discussions of custom, usage, pain statements, and recognition serve to elucidate the context and origin of speaking. However, the result raises difficulties for comprehending the originative moment of speaking anew. Although these are (...)
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    Wittgenstein’s Use of the Private Language Discussion.Vincent M. Cooke - 1974 - International Philosophical Quarterly 14 (1):25-49.
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  10. added 2019-06-06
    Castañeda on the Private-Language Argument: A Refutation of a Refutation.Edward S. Shirley - 1973 - Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):133-138.
  11. added 2019-06-06
    Can There Be a Private Language? [REVIEW]S. C. A. - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 27 (2):412-413.
    This book is another work on the voluminous literature on the Private Language Argument. The author devotes his arguments solely to a refutation of "anti-private language thesis" as it appears in the articles of N. Malcolm, J. D. Carney, and Newton Garver. Two arguments of the thesis are considered without ascription to Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. The first is the familiar "The Diary Keeper Argument" found in Wittgenstein : "The claim that the supposition that one could keep a record of a (...)
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    Other Minds and the Uses of Language.Dwight Van de Vate - 1966 - American Philosophical Quarterly 3 (3):250-254.
  13. added 2019-06-05
    Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Saul Kripke.Paul Horwich - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (1):163-171.
  14. added 2019-04-22
    The Community View Revisited.Claudine Verheggen - 2007 - Metaphilosophy 38 (5):612-631.
    Joining a vast Wittgensteinian anti-theoretical movement, John Canfield has argued that it is possible to read the claims that (1) “language is essentially communal” and (2) “it is conceptually possible that a Crusoe isolated from birth should speak or follow rules” in such a way that they are perfectly compatible, and, indeed, that Wittgenstein held them both at once. The key to doing this is to drain them of any theoretical content or implications that would put each claim at odds (...)
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  15. added 2019-04-22
    Davidson's Second Person.Claudine Verheggen - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (188):361-369.
    According to Donald Davidson, language is social in that only a person who has interacted linguistically with another could have a language. This paper is a discussion of Davidson’s argument in defence of that claim. I argue that he has not succeeded in establishing it, but that he has provided many of the materials out of which a successful argument could be built. Chief among these are the claims that some version of externalism about meaning is true, that possession of (...)
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  16. added 2019-03-29
    La estructura lógica del comportamiento humano.Michael Starks - 2019 - Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press.
    Mi afirmación es que la tabla de intencionalidad (racionalidad, mente, pensamiento, lenguaje, personalidad, etc.) que se presenta aquí describe de forma prominente más o menos precisa, o al menos sirve como una heurística para, cómo pensamos y comportamos, y por lo que abarca no meramente filosofía y psicología, pero todo lo demás (historia, literatura, matemáticas, política, etc.). Tenga en cuenta especialmente que la intencionalidad y la racionalidad como yo (junto con Searle, Wittgenstein y otros) lo ve, incluye tanto deliberativo consciente (...)
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  17. added 2018-06-30
    William James on Conceptions and Private Language.Henry Jackman - 2017 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 30:175-193.
    William James was one of the most frequently cited authors in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, but the attention paid to James’s Principles of Psycho- logy in that work is typically explained in terms of James having ‘committed in a clear, exemplary manner, fundamental errors in the philosophy of mind.’ (Goodman 2002, p. viii.) The most notable of these ‘errors’ was James’s purported commitment to a conception of language as ‘private’. Commentators standardly treat James as committed to a conception of language as (...)
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  18. added 2018-02-17
    Talking Monkeys : Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2017.Michael Starks - 2017 - Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press.
    This collection of articles was written over the last 10 years and edited to bring them up to date (2017). The copyright page has the date of the edition and new editions will be noted there as I edit old articles or add new ones. All the articles are about human behavior (as are all articles by anyone about anything), and so about the limitations of having a recent monkey ancestry (8 million years or much less depending on viewpoint) and (...)
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  19. added 2018-02-17
    Is There Such a Thing as Pragmatics?--Review of Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics 2nd Ed (2009).Michael Starks - 2016 - In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization-- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 2nd Edition Feb 2018. Michael Starks. pp. 381-399.
    Clearly neither I nor anyone will ever read any substantial part of this massive tome so I will discuss the one article that interests me most and which I think provides the framework necessary for the understanding of all the rest. I refer to the one on Ludwig Wittgenstein (W). Even were I to try to discuss others, we would not get past the first page as all the issues here arise immediately in any discussion of behavior. The differentiation of (...)
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  20. added 2017-04-25
    TYPES OF INTERSUBJECTIVITY and Alternative Reality Images.Ulrich De Balbian - 2017 - Oxford: Academic Publishers.
    Exploration of INTERSUBJECTIVITY is continued. Different kinds of if are differentiated and signs for its presence and effects are shown. The difference between it, subjectivity and objectivity are explored. Intersubjectivity is crucial and universal for general everyday discourse in all cultures, sub-cultures, institutions, communities and socio-cultural practices such as religion, sport, etc or the so-called Manifest Image. It is essential for specialized areas, for example religion, sport and disciplines such as the humanities, arts, sciences, philosophy and all institutions. It is (...)
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  21. added 2017-02-15
    The Concept of Language. [REVIEW]S. E. - 1960 - Review of Metaphysics 13 (3):535-535.
    In answering the question "what is a language?", the author goes beyond Tarski, Carnap and Quine--to whom he is at the same time greatly indebted--and suggests that there cannot be a logic without ontology, that language is conditioned by the world, and that full explication of the concept of language must include pragmatics, not merely syntactics and semantics. This important and fair-minded book presupposes a grasp of symbolic logic. --E. S.
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  22. added 2017-02-14
    Wittgenstein and the Dualism of the Inner and the Outer.Hao Tang - 2014 - Synthese 191 (14):3173-3194.
    A dualism characteristic of modern philosophy is the conception of the inner and the outer as two independently intelligible domains. Wittgenstein’s attack on this dualism contains deep insights. The main insight (excavated from §304 and §293 of the Philosophical Investigations) is this: our sensory consciousness is deeply shaped by language and this shaping plays a fundamental role in the etiology of the dualism. I locate this role in the learning of a sensation-language (as described in §244), by showing that this (...)
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  23. added 2017-01-23
    “It is Not a Something, but Not a Nothing Either!”—McDowell on Wittgenstein.Hao Tang - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):557-567.
    This paper corrects a mistake in John McDowell’s influential reading of Wittgenstein’s attack on the idea of private sensations. McDowell rightly identifies a primary target of Wittgenstein’s attack to be the Myth of the Given. But he also suggests that Wittgenstein, in the ferocity of his battles with this myth, sometimes goes into overkill, which manifests itself in seemingly behavioristic denials about sensations. But this criticism of Wittgenstein is a mistake. The mistake is made over two important but notoriously difficult (...)
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  24. added 2017-01-23
    Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Language.W. A. F. - 1974 - Review of Metaphysics 27 (3):604-604.
    The book is published in the International Library of Philosophy and Scientific Method. It proceeds under the assumption that the Tractatus and the later works of Wittgenstein are mutually illuminating. The general program is to present the Tractarian picture theory, to explain why it was abandoned and a new theory of language adopted, and to explicate the new theory of use. Conceptually the book is arranged around the problem of intentionality. Bogen believes that Wittgenstein’s chief concern was with the problem (...)
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  25. added 2017-01-22
    A Defense of the Private Self.Robert R. Ehman - 1964 - Review of Metaphysics 17 (3):340 - 360.
    THE CARTESIAN IDEA that a self is a private consciousness has been subject to criticisms from many points of view. The most basic of these criticisms are that once we admit that the self is private, we cannot be certain of a common world, cannot conceive of outward actions of the self, and cannot have reasonable assurance of the existence of other selves. Those who hold fast to the private self might be willing to admit these criticisms and to hold (...)
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  26. added 2016-12-12
    Wittgenstein at Work: Method in the Philosophical Investigations.Erich Ammereller & Eugen Fischer (eds.) - 2004 - Routledge.
    Wittgenstein at Work: Method in the Philosophical Investigations explores the least well-understood aspect of Wittgenstein's later work: his aims and methods. Specially-commissioned papers by twelve of the world's leading Wittgenstein scholars analyze the way he approached key topics such as rule-following and private language, and examine his remarks on clarification, nonsense and other central notions of his methodology. Many contributors touch on the therapeutic aspects Wittgenstein's approach, the focus of much current debate. Wittgenstein at Work provides both students and specialist (...)
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  27. added 2016-12-08
    Psychological Investigations: The Private Language Argument and Inferences in Contemporary Cognitive Science.C. D. Meyers & Sara Waller - 2009 - Synthese 171 (1):135-156.
    Some of the methods for data collection in experimental psychology, as well as many of the inferences from observed behavior or image scanning, are based on the implicit premise that language use can be linked, via the meaning of words, to specific subjective states. Wittgenstein’s well known private language argument (PLA), however, calls into question the legitimacy of such inferences. According to a strong interpretation of PLA, all of the elements of a language must be publicly available. Thus the meaning (...)
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  28. added 2016-11-28
    A Teleologist's Reactions To "on Private Events And Theoretical Terms".Joseph Rychlak - 1992 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 13 (4):347-358.
    This paper examines the theoretical differences obtaining between a mechanist like Moore and a teleologist like Rychlak. It is shown that mechanistic formulations invariably reduce the account to material and efficient causation, whereas teleologists want to bring in formal-final cause descriptions as well. Mechanists frame their explanations in third-person terms whereas teleologists often seek a first-person formulation of behavior. Moore's references to "private events" are shown to be extraspectively understood. A major theme of this paper is that Skinner actually capitalized (...)
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  29. added 2016-03-09
    Représentationnalisme et langage privé : une défense wittgensteinienne du caractère non-représentationnel de la phénoménalité.François Kammerer - 2015 - Philosophie 126 (3):62.
    Dans « Représentationnalisme et langage privé », François Kammerer s’attache à la thèse dite du représentationnalisme qui, au regard de la conscience phénoménale, pose que les propriétés qualitatives d’une expérience consciente sont entièrement déterminées par ses propriétés représentationnelles ; de nombreux arguments ont été proposés en faveur de cette thèse, qui est devenue l’orthodoxie en philosophie de l’esprit contemporaine. L’auteur entend réfuter les arguments les plus significatifs, en se fondant sur des considérations de Wittgenstein sur l’impossibilité d’un « langage privé (...)
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  30. added 2016-01-27
    Jezik in javno: reorganizacija trivija v Lockovem Eseju in v Portroyalski logiki.Gregor Kroupa - 2013 - Filozofski Vestnik 34 (3):57-74.
    "Language and its Public Features: Reorganizing the Trivium in Locke's Essay and Port-Royal Logic" The new theory of language in the 17th century coincides with the end the traditional order of disciplines in the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric), which in the mediaeval times provided a comprehensive view of the problems of discourse. The article focuses on some key passages in Port-Royal Logic and Locke's Essay that provide us with a typical early modern scheme of linguistic representation, characterised by heavily (...)
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  31. added 2016-01-21
    Another Look at the Rule‐Following Paradox.Greg Janzen - 2014 - Philosophical Forum 45 (1):69-88.
    Saul Kripke has famously argued that the central question of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, at least in relation to Wittgenstein's discussion of meaning, is the question: what facts determine that a speaker is following a particular rule? For example, assuming that language-use is a rule-governed activity, what facts determine that the rule a speaker is complying with in her current usage of a word is equivalent to the rule she complied with in her previous usage of the word? According to Kripke, (...)
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  32. added 2015-09-05
    Su che cosa si pretende dal significato.Andrea Guardo - 2009 - Acme 62 (1):335-347.
    A defense of a relativist view of rule-following. The paper is a précis of “Il Mito del Dato”.
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  33. added 2015-09-05
    Il Mito del Dato.Andrea Guardo - 2009 - Milano-Udine: Mimesis.
    A critique of John McDowell’s theory of content, with special emphasis on his reading of Wittgenstein’s Rule-Following Considerations.
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  34. added 2015-04-05
    Patricia H. Werhane, Skepticism, Rules, and Private Languages. [REVIEW]Rupert Read - 1994 - Philosophy in Review 14:144-147.
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  35. added 2015-04-04
    Language and Private Phenomena.Patricia Hogue Werhane - 1969 - Dissertation, Northwestern University
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  36. added 2015-03-22
    The Private-Language Problem: A Philosophical Dialogue.L. C. Holborow - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (79):185.
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  37. added 2015-03-21
    Humpty Dumpty, Private Languages and Logic Programmers.Tjm Bench-Capon - 1988 - AI and Society 2 (3):271-272.
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  38. added 2015-03-19
    Weinrib, Ernest. The Idea of Private Law.C. B. Gray - 1996 - Review of Metaphysics 50 (1):194-195.
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  39. added 2015-03-19
    The Uses of Sense. Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Language.Gertrude D. Conway - 1991 - Review of Metaphysics 45 (1):153-155.
    Through an extended discussion of semantics, the private language argument, skepticism, and a constellation of key concepts from the Philosophical Investigations, Charles Travis's The Uses of Sense offers a novel reading of Wittgenstein's philosophy of language. Focusing on the importance of the private language argument, his discussion serves as a means of clarifying Wittgenstein's critique of a particular understanding of semantics.
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  40. added 2015-03-19
    Empirical Private Languages and the Perfect Simulator.Ermanno Bencivenga - 1991 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 41:99-104.
    In an attempt at fleshing out the thesis that religious (and other similar) experiences cannot be attributed to an individual on the basis of outer behaviour alone, the hypothesis is entertained of somebody who decides, at a certain point in his life, to fool everybody into beUeving that he is a reUgious beUever. This person, it is claimed, lacks the inner conviction that is crucial to religious experiences. Does this claim fall prey to Wittgenstein-like objections to the possibility of a (...)
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  41. added 2015-03-19
    The Private Sea.H. P. K. - 1967 - Review of Metaphysics 21 (2):369-369.
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  42. added 2015-03-18
    Private Languages and Private Entities.James W. Cornman - 1968 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):117-126.
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  43. added 2015-03-18
    Private Languages.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1964 - American Philosophical Quarterly 1 (1):20 - 31.
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  44. added 2015-01-25
    Searle and De Soto: The New Ontology of the Social World.Barry Smith - 2008 - In Barry Smith, David Mark & Isaac Ehrlich (eds.), The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality. Open Court. pp. 35-51.
    Consider a game of blind chess between two chess masters that is recorded in some standard chess notation. The recording is a representation of the game. But what is the game itself? This question is, we believe, central to the entire domain of social ontology. We argue that the recorded game is a special sort of quasi-abstract pattern, something that is: (i) like abstract entities such as numbers or forms, in that it is both nonphysical and nonpsychological; but at the (...)
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  45. added 2014-11-22
    Estudio crítico: Martin Kusch A Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules. Defending Kripke's Wittgenstein, Montreal and Kingston, Ithaca, McGuill-Queen's University Press, 2006.Pedro Karczmarczyk - 2007 - Fenomenologia. Diálogos Possíveis Campinas: Alínea/Goiânia: Editora da Puc Goiás 42 (89):157-188.
    El presente trabajo es un estudio del libro de Martin Kusch acerca den las tesis sostenidas en "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language" (WRPL) por Saul Kripke examinado a la luz de la controversia desatada por la publicación del mismo en 1982, una de las más intensas que han ocurrido en los últimos 25 años en el seno de la filosofía analítica. En nuestro estudio procedemos en tres etapas. En la primera, presentaremos el desafío del Wittgenstein de Kripke de una (...)
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  46. added 2014-11-18
    Los argumentos del lenguaje privado. Notas para la reconstrucción de una controversia.Pedro Karczmarczyk - 2012 - Fenomenologia. Diálogos Possíveis Campinas: Alínea/Goiânia: Editora da Puc Goiás 92:73-124.
    Intentaremos reconstruir la controversia acerca de la posibilidad de un lenguaje privado. Analizamos primero las posiciones “epistemológicas” (Malcolm y Fogelin), mostrando sus fallos. Luego analizamos la versión “semántica” (Kenny y Tugendhat) encontrándolas igualmente fallidas. La crítica de Barry Stroud a los argumentos trascendentales como argumentos antiescépticos nos permite discernir el presupuesto común que debilita las posiciones anteriores. Asimismo, la reconstrucción permite apreciar mejor la manera en la que la versión de Kripke evita comprometerse con este presupueto. Argumentamos que esta versión (...)
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  47. added 2014-11-12
    El Argumento del lenguaje privado a contrapelo.Pedro Karczmarczyk (ed.) - 2011 - Editorial de la Universidad de la Plata (Edulp).
    La tesis de la privacidad linguitica nace con el gesto fundador de la filosofía moderna que apoya toda legitimidad en la subjetividad y la conciencia. Ello da origen a dos problemas filos�ficos fundamentales, concernientes al mundo y al solipsismo. El siglo XX creyó encontrar en el lenguaje una salida a estos problemas. Wittgenstein es allí una pieza clave. Sin embargo las interpretaciones más influyentes de Wittgenstein enfocaron la crítica del lenguaje privado de tal modo que la salida debía permanecer en (...)
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  48. added 2014-10-28
    Language, Identity and Multiculturalism.Gabriel Furmuzachi - 2007 - Logos.
    With Augustine and especially with Wittgenstein, we see that when we use language we negotiate a meaning since language is something we acquire in a community. On the other hand, Chomsky argues that language is something that happens to us, rather than something we learn. We attempt to bring these two positions in a balance by following Davidson's ideas on meaning and radical interpretation, which gives us a way to keep meaning (what someone thinks) and belief (what someone holds true (...)
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  49. added 2014-05-02
    "I Think ...." Kant on Self-Consciousness.Jens Saugstad - 2002 - In Audun Øfsti, Peter Ulrich & Truls Wyller (eds.), Indexicality and Idealism Ii. The Self in Philosophical Perspective. Mentis. pp. 103-125.
  50. added 2014-04-03
    Wittgenstein on Private Language: Exorcising the Ghost From the Machine.Christopher Read Hitchcock - 1995 - Philosophia 24 (3-4):127-147.
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