The Substance Argument of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

Volume 4.7 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published.

It features an article by Michael Morris entitled “The Substance Argument of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus”. Here is an abstract:

In Morris (2008) I presented in outline a new interpretation of the famous ‘substance argument’ in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (Wittgenstein 1922). The account I presented there gave a distinctive view of Wittgenstein’s main concerns in the argument, but did not explain in detail how the argument works: how its steps are to be found in the text, and how it concludes. I remain convinced that the interpretation I proposed correctly identifies the main concerns which lie behind the argument. I return to the argument here in order to elaborate in fuller detail the relation between those concerns and the actual course of the text.

JHAP is available at https://jhaponline.org. Submissions welcome!

Geach and Ascriptivism: Beside the Point / Getting off the Inwagen: A Critique of Quinean Metaontology

Volume 4.6 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published.

The essays published in this volume were selected as the co-recipients of the 2014 JHAP Essay Prize.

The first paper is “Geach and Ascriptivism: Beside the Point”, by Luís Duarte d’Almeida. Here is an abstract:

This paper discusses the first incarnation of what came to be known as the “Frege-Geach” point. The point was made by Peter Geach in his 1960 essay “Ascriptivism”, and developed in “Assertion”, a 1965 piece. Geach’s articles launch a wholesale attack on theories of non-descriptive performances advanced by “some Oxford philosophers” whom he accuses of ignoring “the distinction between calling a thing ‘P’ and predicating ‘P’ of a thing”. One view that Geach specifically targets is H. L. A. Hart’s claim (in the 1949 essay “The Ascription of Responsibility and Rights”) that sentences of the form “X φ-ed” are not primarily descriptive but ascriptive of responsibility for actions. Hart explicitly accepted Geach’s criticism, and disowned his essay. I argue that he was wrong to do so. Perhaps the essay was worth retracting, but not because of Geach’s objections. I begin by restating and refining Geach’s arguments, in order to bring out the flaw he claimed to have detected in the “pattern of philosophising” that he took Hart’s essay to exemplify. I go on to argue that Geach’s original point poses no obstacle either to non-descriptivism in general, or to Hart’s sui generis non-descriptivist claim in particular.

The second is “Getting off the Inwagen: A Critique of Quinean Metaontology”, by Karl Egerton. Abstract:

Much contemporary ontological inquiry takes place within the so-called ‘Quinean tradition’ but, given that some aspects of Quine’s project have been widely abandoned even by those who consider themselves Quineans, it is unclear what this amounts to. Fortunately recent work in metaontology has produced two relevant results here: a clearer characterisation of the metaontology uniting the aforementioned Quineans, most notably undertaken by Peter van Inwagen, and a raft of criticisms of that metaontology. In this paper I critique van Inwagen’s Quinean metaontology, finding that certain challenges, supplemented by pressure to reflect more closely Quine’s work, should drive Quineans to adopt a stronger metaontology incorporating more of Quine’s radical views. I conclude that while van Inwagen’s Quineanism is problematic there are prospects for a viable, more wholeheartedly Quinean, metaontology.

JHAP is available at https://jhaponline.org. Submissions welcome.

Responses to Uebel on American Pragmatism and the Vienna Circle

Volume 4.5 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) is now online. This issue contains discussions in response to Thomas Uebel’s article “American Pragmatism and the Vienna Circle: The Early Years” published in volume 3.3 (2015) of JHAP.

Contents:
Was James Psychologistic?
Alexander Klein

Abstract: As Thomas Uebel has recently argued, some early logical positivists saw American pragmatism as a kindred form of scientific philosophy. They associated pragmatism with William James, whom they rightly saw as allied with Ernst Mach. But what apparently blocked sympathetic positivists from pursuing commonalities with American pragmatism was the concern that James advocated some form of psychologism, a view they thought could not do justice to the a priori. This paper argues that positivists were wrong to read James as offering a psychologistic account of the a priori. They had encountered James by reading Pragmatism as translated by the unabashedly psychologistic Wilhelm Jerusalem. But in more technical works, James had actually developed a form of conventionalism that anticipated the so-called “relativized” a priori positivists themselves would independently develop. While positivists arrived at conventionalism largely through reflection on the exact sciences, though, James’s account of the a priori grew from his reflections on the biological evolution of cognition, particularly in the context of his Darwin-inspired critique of Herbert Spencer.

The Subterranean Influence of Pragmatism on the Vienna Circle: Peirce, Ramsey, Wittgenstein
Cheryl Misak

Abstract: An underappreciated fact in the history of analytic philosophy is that American pragmatism had an early and strong influence on the Vienna Circle. The path of that influence goes from Charles Peirce to Frank Ramsey to Ludwig Wittgenstein to Moritz Schlick. That path is traced in this paper, and along the way some standard understandings of Ramsey and Wittgenstein, especially, are radically altered.

Pragmatisms and Logical Empiricisms: Response to Misak and Klein
Thomas Uebel

Abstract: This paper responds to the generous comments by Alexander Klein and Cheryl Misak on my “American Pragmatism and the Vienna Circle: The Early Years”. First, besides offering some clarification of my original thesis, I argue that Jerusalem was not liable to the anti-Spencerian criticisms by James that Klein adduces in the course of defending James against the charge of psychologism. Then I investigate the impact of Wittgenstein’s Ramsey-derived pragmatism, importantly foregrounded by Misak, on the Vienna Circle and argue that it was mainly limited to Schlick but not recognized as pragmatist, also leaving unaffected the impact of James’s pragmatism on Frank, Hahn and Neurath specified in my original paper. That said, Klein’s and Misak’s comments add significantly to our understanding of long-neglected transatlantic philosophical connections in the early twentieth century.

JHAP is available at: https://jhaponline.org. Submissions welcome.

SSHAP AGM and Election

Dear SSHAP members,

We celebrated yesterday, on 14 May, the first anniversary of our incorporation as a non-profit. In order to maintain our legal status we are required to hold a first Annual General Meeting within 18 months of incorporation and, as a matter of fact, hold our first election. The AGM will take place on 17 June 2016, during our annual conference. All members are invited to attend.

At the Meeting, the Assembly will hopefully ratify the constitution (attached). The SSHAP’s structure has not been very rigid, but for the purpose of the law, we need to have a Secretary and a President. Richard Zach and I have been filling these positions in the interim, i.e. since 2008 (yes, that long already!) and we will be hoping to be elected by the Assembly – so as to put an end to the dictatorship and establish the Supreme Sovereignty of the Will of the People. (The Will of the People is an obsolete notion, but we are historians after all.)

The Association was co-founded by three other members: Amie Thomasson, Mathieu Marion and Mark Textor whom we’d like to thank very warmly for their input over the years. Unlike me and Richard, however, they have either moved on to better things – or they disagree with our attempt to become a democratic institution and are in the process of forming an alternative “Axis” of some kind – and they will not be seeking election.

We’ve sought to recruit members interested in joining SSHAP’s leadership to populate our Board. There are currently four persons we would like to nominate on the Steering Committee:

  • Aude Bandini, University of Montreal
  • Matt Carlson, Wabash College
  • Theresa Kouri, Ohio State
  • Sean Morris, Metropolitan State Univsersity Denver

All members are however invited and warmly encouraged to make further suggestions. There are still 3 positions available, one for Treasurer and a maximum of two on Steering Committee.

The mandate of the Steering Committee is:

  • to assist the executive in finding a location for upcoming annual meetings (previous venues include: McMaster in Hamilton, Indiana at Bloomington, University of Montreal and Trinity College Dublin; prospective venues include San Diego, Helsinki and Berlin);
  • to make or solicit proposals for symposia at the Central and Pacific APA, where SSHAP meets annually (for previous meetings: http://sshap.org/category/meetings/apa-group-meetings/)

Nominations can be entered until the vote, at the AGM.

Because we’d like to insure continuity on the Board, and because this can only be done if mandates are staggered, initial mandates will exceptionally be for the following length, starting July 1 2016.

  • President: 2 years
  • Secretary: 3 years
  • Treasurer: 2 years
  • Steering Committee member 1: 3 years
  • Steering Committee member 2: 2 years
  • Steering Committee member 3: 3 years
  • Steering Committee member 4: 2 years
  • Steering Committee member 5: 3 years
  • Steering Committee member 6: 2 years

Subsequent mandates will be for 2 years, as stipulated in the Constitution.

We will be looking forward to seeing you in Denver. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us:

sshap@mcmaster.ca

Very best,

Sandra

A. N. Prior on Austin’s ‘Sense and Sensibilia’

Volume 4.4 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online. It features an article entitled "A. N. Prior on Austin's Sense and Sensibilia", edited by Chrissy van Hulst and Max Cresswell. Here is an abstract:

In the early 1960s A. N. Prior was commissioned to write a review of J. L. Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia. The review was never published. The present article presents a transcription of the review from the material available in the Virtual Lab For Prior Studies maintained at Aalborg University, together with an edited version of the transcription of a longer commentary on Sense and Sensibilia from which the review was condensed.

JHAP is available at: https://jhaponline.org. Submissions welcome.

Foundations of Methodology in the History of Philosophy

Workshop, 16 April 2016, Trius Winery at Hillebrand (www.triuswines.com)

One of the biggest challenges for historians of philosophy, whether it be historians of e.g. analytic, German, modern, medieval or ancient philosophy is to make clear the various ways in which historical work can be relevant to contemporary discussion. Few philosophical resources exist that deal with questions concerning approaches and methods, and divergences across the various subfields of interest are often quite remarkable. This is to say nothing of the gap that seems to exist between historians of philosophy and historians and philosophers of science.  

The purpose of the workshop is to come to a better understanding of our own assumptions as historians and consider whether distinct approaches and methods can come to inform each other in a way that could contribute to unifying the field – and whether this is desirable in the first place. It will gather historians and philosophers of science, historians of ancient, medieval and modern philosophy as well as historians of analytical philosophy.

The workshop will revolve around current work-in-progress by eminent historian of medieval philosophy Claude Panaccio (UQAM). The morning session will be devoted to a lecture by Panaccio, followed by an open discussion. The afternoon session will consist of a round table. A number of “ heses” taken from Panaccio’s manuscript will be examined and discussed by a panel of historians with different backgrounds and interest. They include :

  • ·      Corey Dyck, Western
  • ·      Jacqueline Feke, Waterloo
  • ·      David Hunter, Ryerson
  • ·      Peter King, Toronto
  • ·      Henrik Lagerlund, Western
  • ·      Sandra Lapointe, McMaster
  • ·      Christian Leduc, Montreal
  • ·      Martin Pickave, Toronto

The round table will be followed by a general discussion. Invited discussants include: Doreen Fraser (Waterloo), Mark Johnstone (McMaster), Jenny Pelletier (Leuven), Marleen Rozemond (Toronto), Anthony Skelton (Western), Nick Stang (Toronto),  John Thorp (Western).

for more information, visit us HERE

Wittgenstein and His Literary Executors / Reviews of Works on Wittgenstein and on Stout

Volume 4.3 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online. It features an article by Christian Erbacher entitled “Wittgenstein and His Literary Executors”.

It also contains a review of Mauro Engelmann’s Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Development, by Alois Pichler, and a review of Maria van der Schaar’s G. F. Stout and the Psychological Origins of Analytic Philosophy by Consuelo Preti.

Here is an abstract of Erbacher’s article:

Rush Rhees, Georg Henrik von Wright and Elizabeth Anscombe are well known as the literary executors who made Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later philosophy available to all interested readers. Their editions of Wittgenstein’s writings have become an integral part of the modern philosophical canon. However, surprisingly little is known about the circumstances and reasons that made Wittgenstein choose them to edit and publish his papers. This essay sheds light on these questions by presenting the story of their personal relationships—relationships that, on the one hand, gave Rhees, von Wright and Anscombe distinct insights into Wittgenstein’s philosophizing; and, on the other hand, let Wittgenstein assume that these three former students, and later colleagues and friends, were the most capable of preparing his work for publication. Using hitherto unpublished archival material as well as information from published recollections, the essay sketches the development of the personal and philosophical bonds from which the literary heirs’ distinct ways of handling Wittgenstein’s unpublished writings grew in later years.

JHAP is available at: https://jhaponline.org. Submissions welcome.

JOB: Visiting Russell Professorship at McMaster University

The Department of Philosophy at McMaster University is currently advertising its 2016/17 Visiting Russell Professorship. 

The Visiting Professorships, one of which will be available each year, are intended for established scholars whose research would benefit by access to the Bertrand Russell Archives. It is an excellent opportunity for Russell scholars and historians of analytical philosophy to gain physical access to the formidable wealth of material curated at McMaster. Please consult the ad here:

http://philos.humanities.mcmaster.ca/2016/02/24/bertrand-russell-visiting-professorship/

McMaster hosts a number of events in the history of analytical philosophy each year. For more information:

http://historyofanalyticalphilosophy.mcmaster.ca/

Brentano’s Mature Theory of Intentionality / Review of Work on Quine

Volume 4.2 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online. It features an article by Uriah Kriegel entitled “Brentano’s Mature Theory of Intentionality”, as well as a review of Gilbert Harman and Ernie Lepore, eds., A Companion to W.V.O. Quine, by James Pearson.

Here is the abstract to Kriegel’s article:

The notion of intentionality is what Franz Brentano is best known for. But disagreements and misunderstandings still surround his account of its nature. In this paper, I argue that Brentano’s mature account of the nature of intentionality construes it, not as a two-place relation between a subject and an object, nor as a three-place relation between a subject’s act, its object, and a ‘content,’ but as an altogether non-relational, intrinsic property of subjects. I will argue that the view is more defensible than might initially appear.

How to Read Moore’s “Proof of an External World”

Volume 4.1 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy has been published. It features an article by Kevin Morris and Consuelo Preti entitled ‘How to Read Moore’s “Proof of an External World”’. Here is an abstract:

We develop a reading of Moore’s “Proof of an External World” (PEW) that emphasizes the connections between this paper and Moore’s earlier concerns and strategies. Our reading has the benefit of explaining why the claims that Moore advances in “Proof of an External World” would have been of interest to him, and avoids attributing to him arguments that are either trivial or wildly unsuccessful. Part of the evidence for our view comes from unpublished drafts which, we believe, contain important clues concerning Moore’s aims and intent. While our approach to PEW may be classified alongside other broadly “metaphysical” readings, we believe that a proper recognition of the continuity in Moore’s philosophical concerns and strategies across his philosophical career shows that the customary distinction between “epistemological” and “metaphysical” interpretative approaches to PEW is at best superficial.