In the early twentieth century an apparently obscure philosophical debate took place between F. H. Bradley and Bertrand Russell. The historical outcome was momentous: the demise of the movement known as British Idealism, and its eventual replacement by the various forms of analytic philosophy. Since then, a conception of this debate and its rights and wrongs has become entrenched in English-language philosophy. Stewart Candlish examines afresh the events of this formative period in twentieth-century thought and comes to some surprising conclusions.
is true, there is a truth-maker (e.g., a fact) with which it is identical and the truth of the former consists in its identity with the latter. The theory is best understood as a reaction to the correspondence theory, according to which the relation of truth-bearer to truth-maker is correspondence. A correspondence theory is vulnerable to the nagging suspicion that if the best we can do is make statements that merely correspond to the truth, then we inevitably fail to capture (...) the reality they are about and thus fall short of the truth we aim at. An identity theory is designed to overcome this suspicion. (shrink)
cannot understand the language.” This is not intended to cover (easily imaginable) cases of recording one's experiences in a personal code, for such a code, however obscure in fact, could in principle be deciphered. What Wittgenstein had in mind is a language conceived as necessarily comprehensible only to its single originator because the things which define its vocabulary are necessarily inaccessible to others.
This is a response to Jennifer Hornsby's Presidential Address to the Aristotelian Society in 1996 (published 1997) and to Julian Dodd's defences of an identity theory. Both authors explain their versions of the theory through its rejection of a correspondence theory and its insistence on the indefinability of truth. I ask what more there is to the identity theory to justify its title and argue that the investigation of this matter reveals difficulties which neither author resolves.
When Donald Davidson published his influential article ‘Actions, Reasons and Causes’ , many of his contemporaries were convinced that reasons for action could not be causes of anything, so that even an explanation such as ‘Gilbert knelt because he had decided to propose to Gertrude’ did not work by citing Gilbert’s decision as a cause of his kneeling. Davidson was mainly responsible for demolishing that consensus and reinstating causalism—the thesis that psychological or rationalizing explanations of human behaviour are a species (...) of event-causal explanation—as the dominant view in the philosophy of action, so that it is now often regarded as an obvious truth. (shrink)
Most recent discussions of truth ignore the fact that a few philosophers, past and present, have flirted with and sometimes openly subscribed to an identity theory, according to which a proposition's being true consists in its identity with the reality it is supposedly about. This neglect is probably due to the theory's counter-intuitiveness: it faces obvious and fundamental objections. The aim of this paper is to consider these objections and decide if there is a version of the theory which can (...) escape them, thereby becoming an at least initially plausible candidate for an account of truth. In this way the metaphysical price exacted by commitment to an identity theory can be assessed. (shrink)
Meaning, Understanding, and Practice is a selection of the most notable essays of an eminent contemporary philosopher on a set of central topics in analytic philosophy. Barry Stroud offers penetrating studies of meaning, understanding, necessity, and the intentionality of thought, with particular reference to the thought of Wittgenstein.
Recently we have seen the disinterring, inspection, attribution to various philosophers including Bradley, and eventually recommendation of a forgotten theory of truth, the identity theory. But have we yet been given compelling reason to regard this theory, in any of its so far recognized variants, as anything other than a mere historical curiosity? In this paper I shall query some of the attributions, and try to answer this question.
It verges on the platitudinous to say that Wittgenstein's own treatment of the question of a private language has been almost lost to view under mountains of commentary in the last twenty years—so much so, that no one with a concern for his own health would try to arrive at a verdict on the question by first mastering the available discussion. But a general acquaintance with the commentaries indicates that opinion on the matter can be roughly divided into two categories: (...) that of the Old Orthodoxy , most recently represented by Robert Fogelin in his book Wittgenstein ; and that of what may be termed the New Guardians of the Wittgenstein Tradition, apparently based in Oxford and headed by Anthony Kenny, who in his book Wittgenstein has proposed a new account of the argument of Philosophical Investigations §§256–271. The important difference between the old and new orthodoxies will be considered later. (shrink)
Although its use is not universal, there is a map of the logical space of theories of truth that is widely applied. According to this map, the most foundational divide amongst theories of truth is that between deflationary and inflationary theories, where, roughly, the former hold that truth is an insubstantial, logical property of little philosophical interest and the latter that it is a substantial property suitable for philosophical attention. Amongst the inflationary theories, there are other fundamental divisions. For example, (...) on the one hand, correspondence theorists hold that the truth of a proposition is a matter of the proposition’s standing in a relation to something else which is not a proposition, such as a fact. On the other hand, coherence theorists hold that the truth of a proposition is a matter of its relations to other propositions. And again, pragmatists hold that the truth of a proposition is a matter of its being useful to believe. Throughout the twentieth century, philosophers used one or other version of this map to orient themselves and their students in the often complex and confusing debates about truth, even while acknowledging that the map may be incomplete in crucial respects (it does not include functionalist and pluralist views, for example). Our objection to the map is not that it is incomplete—although it obviously is—, but that it needs to be radically redrawn. In particular, the familiar division between coherence theories and correspondence theories needs to be rethought. The coherence theory is so often glibly dismissed as absurd that labelling someone as a coherence theorist is often seen as reason enough to ignore them.1 While none of the philosophers usually so labelled should be ignored, we shall argue (§3) that none of them actually held this view anyway. The difficulty—perhaps impossibility—of finding a genuine coherence theorist of truth strikes us as more than just an indication that this is a rare animal. Rather, it suggests the possibility of something significant, namely, that the only occupant of this position in historical space is a set of slogans; this would give us some reason to suppose that the logical space of theories is just as empty at this point.. (shrink)
One of the most notorious — and dismissive — passages in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations is Part II section xiv, which begins like this: The confusion and barrenness of psychology is not to be explained by calling it a “young science”; its state is not comparable with that of physics, for instance, in its beginnings. (Rather with that of certain branches of mathematics. Set theory.) For in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion. (As in the other case conceptual confusion (...) and methods of proof.) The existence of the experimental method makes us think we have the means of solving the problems which trouble us; though problem and method pass one another by. Strong words. But we know that at one stage in his life Wittgenstein’s interest in psychology was sufficient for him to have done some experimental research, and that he was well acquainted with the work of at least some of the prominent psychologists active in his own lifetime. That is, his quoted remarks were not made from ignorance; and we should accordingly take them seriously enough to consider why he made them, what he had in mind, and to what extent — if any — they may have been (and, though this was all a long time ago, may still be) justified. (shrink)
ABSTRACT A (not the) history of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy is presented in a series of snapshots, some of them with 360° angles, taken at ten-year intervals from the time of its foundation to the time of writing. Attention is paid to influences on the AJP ranging from the social and political to the individual, from the financial to the technical, from the historical to the geographical, and to how these influences are (or are not) reflected in its contents (...) and appearance. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:BOOK REVIEWS 697 however, that extreme caution is to be advised upon entering those waters? Fully respectful of this concern, Professor Stambaugh enjoins the reader to "reach his own conclusions about parallels and affinities" concerning "some strains of Nietzsche's thought that are most consonant with an Eastern temper of experience." DAVID B. ALLISON SUNY, Stony Brook W. J. Mander. An Introduction to Bradley's Metaphysics. New York: Oxford University Press, (...) 1994. Pp. viii + 175. Cloth, $39-95. T. L. S. Sprigge. James and Bradley: American Truth and British Reality. Chicago: Open Court, 1993. Pp. xiv + 63o. Cloth, $66.95. Paper, $29.95Until the appearance of Mander's book there had been no short general introduction to Bradley in print since Penguin dropped Wollheim's F. H. Bradley from their list. But in any case, as a result of the work of scholars since its last revision in 1969, Wollheim's account, despite its many virtues, is now known to be misleading in crucial places, for he remained to some extent in the grip of the dismissive caricature of Bradley bequeathed to analytic philosophers by Russell and Moore and stilloften just taken for granted. (See, e.g., almost any textbook which has a chapter on truth.) By drawing on this scholarship Mander offers us a philosopher strikingly different from this caricature. Mander's replacement portrayal is, in its broad outlines, accurate enough to be confidently recommended as giving a good general sketch of Bradley's views (excepting the ethics, which Woliheim managed to include), presenting them sympathetically but not completely uncritically in a way which should offer something of interest to both advanced undergraduates and their teachers. As Oxford has also recently published a selection from Bradley's works (Writings on Logic and Metaphysics, edited by James Allard and Guy Stock, with both general and topic-specific introductions), there is the added benefit that one who wishes to read him can now do so without being faced with wading through some intimidatingly large volumes of often meandering discussion in baffling prose. The two should make a good pair around which to structure classes concerning Bradley. I am not quite so confident about some of the detail of Mander's account, which is, moreover, sometimes explained in a way nearly as obscure as the original on which it is intended to cast light. This last is, of course, hard to avoid in expounding a writer whose whole cast of mind is opposed to the exact formulation of precise theses illustrated with clear examples, and is less misleading than artificial precisification; it also perhaps reduces the risk that students will use it as a substitute for, rather than a guide to, the primary texts themselves. And I want to stress that Mander's overall picture of Bradley's views seems to me reliable and as well situated historically as the book's ' G. M. C. Sprung, "Nietzsche's Interest in and Knowledge of Indian Thought," in The Great Yearof Zarathuara (188z-1981), ed. David Goicoechea (Lanham, MD.: University Press of America, x983), 166-8o. 698 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 33:4 OCTOBER 1995 brevity allows. Its usefulness is enhanced by a very full bibliography which does include some coverage of the ethics. Sprigge's massive work is far more ambitious. His aim is "to provide a comparative exposition and personal evaluation of [Bradley's and James's] main views on truth and on the general nature of reality" (xiii). He gives several reasons for selecting these two philosophers for attention: they are the most important of their time; they are misunderstood and misrepresented; and their views have much in common that is largely correct while being the main alternative solutions to the problems they confront. Further, ajoint treatment makes sense because "it is toJames, rather than Russell, let alone Moore, that we must look for a serious critique of Bradley" (417). This is a labor of love, exhibiting reading of remarkable breadth and depth and the familiarity with its subject matter that is the product only of decades of exploration. Perhaps this very familiarity is part of the explanation of an occasional paucity of textual backup for the pictures Sprigge... (shrink)
James Bradley (ed.), Philosophy after F. H. Bradley . Thoemmes Press Idealism Series, 1996, Bristol, Thoemmes Press; pp. 368 plus x. Hb. 1-85506-484-7 ( 48.00), pb. 1-85506-485-5 ( 16.95). W. J. Mander (ed.), Perspectives on the Logic and Metaphysics of F. H. Bradley . Thoemmes Press Idealism Series, 1996, Bristol, Thoemmes Press; pp. 290 plus xxvii. Hb. 1-85506-433-2 ( 45.00), pb. 1-85506-432-4 ( 14.95).
1. Max Cresswell has argued recently that F. H. Bradley’s metaphysics needs to be viewed with far more respect than it is by contemporary philosophers. It is true that a substantial proportion of the postwar English-speaking philosophical world has tended to assume, on the authority of Russell and Moore, that Bradley made elementary errors right at the start of the obscure reasoning which led him to the Absolute, and consequently that he is worth looking at as little more than a (...) striking example of how awful metaphysicians can be. But it is further true that a serious look at these early refutations of Bradley reveals that they are almost entirely founded on ignorance and misconception. So Cresswell’s attempt at rehabilitation should be given serious scrutiny. (shrink)
Like madrigal-singing, philosophy conferences are likely to be more fun for the participants than for those who merely witness the outcome. Even if the organization is a shambles, the meals are terrible, the bar staff surly, the showers feeble and the beds purgatorial, still the general spirit of camaraderie engendered by a common enterprise and even fostered by adversity may make the occasion enjoyable, and a modest proportion of the discussion is usually genuinely enlightening, sometimes even exciting. But then come (...) the Proceedings, all too often unrefereed, offered to those who, unexcited, have to decide whether to spend someone else’s money on the purchase. Given the finitude of library budgets, the possibility of inter-library loan, and the question of whether publishers should be encouraged in these enterprises at all when the participants could have submitted their papers to journals, would the money be wisely spent in this case? (shrink)