This monograph reappraises the role of Bertrand Russell's philosophical works in establishing the analytical tradition in philosophy. It's main aims are to: * improve our understanding of the history of analytical philosophy * engage in the important disputes surrounding the interpretation of Russell's philosophy * make a contribution to central issues in current analytical philosophy. Drawing extensively from Russell's less well known and unpublished works, this book is a welcome addition to the literature and will undoubtedly find a place on (...) the bookshelves of philosophers around the world. (shrink)
In this paper I defend Kaplan’s claim that the sentence “I am here now” is logically true. A number of counter-examples to the claim have been proposed, including occurrences of the sentence in answerphone messages, written notes left for later decoding, etc. These counter-examples are only convincing if they can be shown to be cases where the correct context with respect to which the utterance should be evaluated is the context in which it is decoded rather than encoded. I argue (...) that this is not the case, and draw on the distinction between force and content to suggest an alternative account of how information is communicated in these cases that is consistent with Kaplan’s semantic theory. (shrink)
This book combines a historical and philosophical study of Russell's theory of descriptions. It defends, develops, and extends the theory as a contribution to natural language semantics while also arguing for a reassessment of the importance of linguistic inquiry to Russell's philosophical project.
Bertrand Russell's 1903 masterpiece "The Principles of Mathematics" places great emphasis on the need to separate propositions from psychological items such as thoughts. In 1919 Russell explicitly retracts this view, however, and defines propositions as "psychological occurrences". These psychological occurrences are held by Russell to be mental images. In this paper, I seek to explain this radical change of heart. I argue that Russell's re-psychologising of the proposition in 1919 can only be understood against the background of his struggle with (...) the problem of the unity of the proposition in earlier work. Once this is recognized, and the solution to the problem offered by the 1919 theory is appreciated, new light is also shed on Russell's naturalism. I go on to compare Russell's psychological "picture theory" with the vehemently anti-psychological picture theory of Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" and suggest that, once the background of the dispute is brought into clearer focus, Russell's position can be seen to have many advantages over its more celebrated rival. (shrink)
In this article I present a summary of Bertrand Russell's protracted attempts to solve the problem of the unity of the proposition, and explain the significance of the problem for Russell's philosophy. Unlike many other accounts which take the problem to be confined to Russell's early theories of propositional content, I argue that the problem (or variants of it) is a recurring theme throughout the whole of Russell's career.
It is well known that Russell abandoned his multiple-relation theory of judgment, which provided the philosophical foundations for _PM_'s ramified type-theory, in response to criticisms by Wittgenstein. Their exact nature has remained obscure. An influential interpretation, put forth by Sommerville and Griffin, is that Wittgenstein showed that the theory must appeal to the very hierarchy it is intended to generate and thus collapses into circularity. I argue that this rests on a mistaken interpretation of type-theory and suggest an alternative one (...) to explain Russell's reaction. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that Russell's problems with the unity of the proposition were recurring and insoluble within the framework of the logical theory of his Principles of Mathematics. By contrast, Frege's functional analysis of thoughts (grounded in a type-theoretic distinction between concepts and objects) is commonly assumed to provide a solution to the problem or, at least, a means of avoiding the difficulty altogether. The Fregean solution is unavailable to Russell because of his commitment to the thesis that there (...) is only one ultimate ontological category. This, combined with Russell's reification of propositions, ensures that he must hold concepts and objects to be of the same logical and ontological type. In this paper I argue that, while Frege's treatment of the unity of the proposition has immediate advantages over Russell's, a deeper consideration of the philosophical underpinnings and metaphysical consequences of the two approaches reveals that Frege's supposed solution is, in fact, far from satisfactory. Russell's repudiation of the Fregean position in the Principles is, I contend, convincing and Russell's own position, despite its problems, conforms to a greater extent than Frege's with common sense and, furthermore, with certain ideas which are central to our understanding of the origins of the analytical tradition. (shrink)
abstract This paper examines a claim made by Michael Dummett in his recent book On Immigration and Refugees that the feeling of racism can be removed by the creation of a social climate in which the expression of that feeling is disreputable. I suggest that Dummett's claim can be better appreciated if viewed in the light of some guiding principles of his project in the philosophy of language. With these principles in place, I argue that they provide convincing support for (...) Dummett's claim, as well as showing an important connection between On Immigration and Dummett's broader philosophical concerns. I conclude the essay by suggesting some ways in which the insights gleaned from Dummett's philosophy may be applied to the case of asylum seekers and their representation by the media and in political rhetoric. (shrink)
In this paper we motivate and develop a new approach to predicates of personal taste within the framework of semantic relativism. Our primary goal is to explain faultless disagreement—the phenomenon where two parties disagree, yet both have uttered something true—which is often thought to arise from the use of predicates of personal taste. We combine semantic relativism with an expressivist semantics to yield a novel hybrid theory which we call Expressive-Relativism. We motivate the theory by rehearsing a famous objection to (...) Relativism from Frege which we interpret as severing the connection between contradiction and disagreement for relativists. Endorsing the objection, we respond by enriching relativism with an expressivist component which explains disagreement over matters of taste as a refusal to share perspectives rather than as resting on contradiction. (shrink)
The theory of descriptions, presented informally in "On Denoting" and more formally in Principia Mathematica, has been endorsed by many linguists and philosophers of language as a contribution to natural-language semantics. However, the syntax of Principia’s formal language is far from ideal as a tool for the analysis of natural language. Stephen Neale has proposed a reconstruction of the theory of descriptions in a language of restricted quantification that gives a better approximation of the syntax of English (and, arguably, of (...) other natural languages). This has led to resistance from some Russell scholars who object to the identification of descriptions with quantifiers at the level of logical form in this new language on the grounds that the identification fails to respect the Russellian conception of descriptions as incomplete symbols. I defend Neale’s reconstruction of the theory and argue that he has preserved everything essential to the theory, including the notion of an incomplete symbol. However, I then go on to argue, contrary to Neale and his objectors as well as Russell himself, that the doctrine of incomplete symbols is a superfluous and undesirable element of the theory that is best jettisoned from the theory. (shrink)
Because of the recent rapid transition in Britain from an elite system of higher education to one in which a much larger propor tion of the population is intended to participate, many students—whose social backgrounds would previously have precluded their involvement in HE—experience strangerhood within academia in a particularly acute form. This paper deals with the experiences of members of an one particular HE course, especially designed for students over 21 years old—such "mature" students are a group who has not (...) been traditionally found in large numbers in British HE Such students describe dramatic changes in their sense of self and in their relationships with others—to the extent that their biographical continuity with their own past becomes problematical.The applicability of an idea touted by certain postmodern writers, "the new selfconsciousness," is considered. Attention is also paid to the practical implications of the findings. (shrink)
David Kaplan's semantic theory for indexicals yields a distinct logic for indexical languages that generates contingent a priori truths. These special truths of the logic of indexicals include examples like "I am here now", an utterance of which expresses a contingent state of affairs and yet which, according to Kaplan, cannot fail to be true when it is uttered. This claim is threatened by the problem of displaced communications: answerphone messages, for example, seem to facilitate true instances of the negation (...) of this supposed logical truth as they allow the agent of the message to no longer be at the location of the message when it is encountered by an audience. Many such displaced communications can be identified in everyday natural language uses of indexicals. Recent discussion has suggested that Kaplan's error is to be overly restrictive in the possible contexts of utterance his semantic theory recognizes, as he fails to acknowledge the possibility of utterances that occur at a context distinct from that in which they are constructed. I reject this diagnosis and defend Kaplan's semantic theory. Displaced communications, I argue, are best understood as resulting from a pragmatically introduced metalinguistic context-shifting operation and hence do not demand revision of Kaplan's semantic theory. I provide an analysis of the pragmatic process underlying this operation and make the case for its merits over those of rival accounts of displaced communications. (shrink)