Russell on Names

Philosophy Research Archives 13:463-470 (1987)
In this paper I describe a shift in Russell’s views on names from the time of “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism” to An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth. It is the burden of the paper that the shift arose because Russell saw an ontological and epistemological problem created by his previous account of names, and because he then tried to correct it, while simultaneously endeavoring to establish an account consistent with science. Two lines of argument are employed to support this conclusion. In the first I cite the “Occam’s Razor” ontology of “Logical Atomism” and contrast it with the more fully developed ontology of the later work, incidentally citing the remarks of commentators such as Ayer. In the second line of argument I specifically adduce material designed to show the metaphysical and epistemic import of the change in view on the status of names, noting that the significance of the change goes far beyond mere usage of terms. Finally, in a subsidiary line of argument, I sketch Russell’s generally foundationalist approach to epistemology
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0164-0771
DOI 10.5840/pra1987/19881318
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