The Propositional Logic of Frege’s Grundgesetze / Reply to Hunter on Anscombe and Davidson on Practical Knowledge

Volume 5.6 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online, with full open access.

It features an article by Eric D. Berg and Roy T. Cook entitled, “The Propositional Logic of Frege’s Grundgesetze: Semantics and Expressiveness”. Here is an abstract:

In this paper we compare the propositional logic of Frege’s Grundgesetze der Arithmetik to modern propositional systems, and show that Frege does not have a separable propositional logic, definable in terms of primitives of Grundgesetze, that corresponds to modern formulations of the logic of “not”, “and”, “or”, and “if…then…”. Along the way we prove a number of novel results about the system of propositional logic found in Grundgesetze, and the broader system obtained by including identity. In particular, we show that the propositional connectives that are definable in terms of Frege’s horizontal, negation, and conditional are exactly the connectives that fuse with the horizontal, and we show that the logical operators that are definable in terms of the horizontal, negation, the conditional, and identity are exactly the operators that are invariant with respect to permutations on the domain that leave the truth-values fixed. We conclude with some general observations regarding how Frege understood his logic, and how this understanding differs from modern views.

The volume also contains a discussion piece by Olav Gjelsvik entitled “Anscombe and Davidson on Practical Knowledge. A Reply to Hunter”. Abstract:

David Hunter has recently argued (in this journal) that Donald Davidson and Elizabeth Anscombe were in basic agreement about practical knowledge. In this reply, it is my contention that Hunter’s fascinating claim may not be satisfactorily warranted. To throw light on why, a more careful consideration of the role of the notion of practical knowledge in Anscombe’s approach to intentional action is undertaken. The result indicates a possible need to distinguish between what is called ‘practical knowledge’ and ‘(non-observational) knowledge of what one is doing’, and shows that Hunter’s claim concerning the closeness of Anscombe to Davidson only has plausibility for knowledge of what one is doing. Contrary to an interesting suggestion by Hunter, the paper argues that it is hard to see how Davidson’s position can benefit substantially from making use of the notion of knowledge of what one is doing.

JHAP is a free, open-access peer reviewed journal. It is available at Submissions welcome!

Happy Birthday Bertie! Happy Birthday Carnap!

In honour of the birthdays of Rudolf Carnap and Bertrand Russell, check out these articles in JHAP:

Gilbert Ryle: Intelligence, Practice, Skill

Volume 5.5 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) is now online. This is a special issue entitled Gilbert Ryle, Intelligence, Practice, Skill, edited by Juliet Floyd and Lydia Patton.

It contains the following four articles:

1) “Volume Introduction: Gilbert Ryle on Propositions, Propositional Attitudes, and Theoretical Knowledge” by Julia Tanney

Abstract: In the introduction to the special volume, Gilbert Ryle: Intelligence, Practice and Skill, Julia Tanney introduces the contributions of Michael Kremer, Stina Bäckström and Martin Gustafsson, and Will Small, each of which indicates concern about the appropriation of Ryle’s distinction between knowing-how and knowing-that in seminal work in contemporary epistemology. Expressing agreement with the authors that something has gone awry in these borrowings from Ryle, Tanney takes this criticism to a deeper level. She argues that the very notion of content-bearing, causally-efficacious mental states, let alone representational states of knowledge-that or knowledge-how, embodies the very presuppositions that Ryle calls into question in his rejection of classical theories of meaning and his related warning of the type-errors involved in conflating rational and mechanistic explanation. That these mental posits are presupposed, unchallenged, in today’s debates make his arguments against intellectualism particularly difficult to discern.

2) “Ryle’s ‘Intellectualist Legend’ in Historical Context” by Michael Kremer

Abstract: Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowledge-how and knowledge-that emerged from his criticism of the “intellectualist legend” that to do something intelligently is “to do a bit of theory and then to do a bit of practice,” and became a philosophical commonplace in the second half of the last century. In this century Jason Stanley (initially with Timothy Williamson) has attacked Ryle’s distinction, arguing that “knowing-how is a species of knowing-that,” and accusing Ryle of setting up a straw man in his critique of “intellectualism.” Examining the use of the terms “intellectualism” and “anti-intellectualism” in the first half of the 20th century, in a wide-ranging debate in the social sciences as well as in philosophy, I show that Ryle was not criticizing a straw man, but a live historical position. In the context of this controversy, Ryle’s position represents a third way between “intellectualism” and “anti-intellectualism,” an option that has largely gone missing in the 21st century discussion. This argument illustrates how history can inform the history of philosophy, and how the history of philosophy can inform contemporary philosophical inquiry.

3) “Skill, Drill, and Intelligent Performance: Ryle and Intellectualism” by Stina Bäckström and Martin Gustafsson

Abstract: In this paper, we aim to show that a study of Gilbert Ryle’s work has much to contribute to the current debate between intellectualism and anti-intellectualism with respect to skill and know-how. According to Ryle, knowing how and skill are distinctive from and do not reduce to knowing that. What is often overlooked is that for Ryle this point is connected to the idea that the distinction between skill and mere habit is a category distinction, or a distinction in form. Criticizing the reading of Ryle presented by Jason Stanley, we argue that once the formal nature of Ryle’s investigation is recognized it becomes clear that his dispositional account is not an instance of reductionist behaviorism, and that his regress argument has a broader target than Stanley appears to recognize.

4) “Ryle on the Explanatory Role of Knowledge How” by Will Small

Abstract: Contemporary discussions of knowledge how typically focus on the question whether or not knowing how to do ϕ consists in propositional knowledge, and divide the field between intellectualists (who think that it does) and anti-intellectualists (who think that it does not, and that it consists instead in the possession of the ability to ϕ). This way of framing the issue is said to derive from Gilbert Ryle. I argue that this is a misreading of Ryle, whose primary interest in discussing knowledge how was not epistemological but rather action-theoretical, whose argument against intellectualism has for this reason been misunderstood and underestimated (by Jason Stanley, among others), and whose positive view aims to chart a middle course between intellectualism and anti-intellectualism.

JHAP is a free, open access journal. It is available at Submissions welcome.

Recommendations toward the Adoption of Best Practices and Guidelines regarding Diversity, Inclusiveness and Equity


  • It is recommended that SSHAP and JHAP adopt the below practices.
  • If adopted, it is recommended that SSHAP and JHAP note their adoption of these practices online and in print materials, and that they be made available on SSHAP’s website and on JHAP’s website.
  • It is recommended that The Up Directory, Women in Philosophy, and Women in Logic be made available on SSHAP and JHAP webpages.

Good Practice Guidelines

To ensure representation of women on the executive committee, it is recommended that,

  • the President, on the advisement of the committee, should ensure, before the end of their tenure, that a reasonable number of men and women should be nominated for executive board positions.
  • if a gender balance fails to manifest, further measures should be adopted.

Conference Speakers

To ensure representation of women in conferences, it is recommended that,

  • ensure a gender balance in our three keynote invitees over a three-year period. If an invited speaker cannot attend in one year, they should be invited in the following year,
  • adopt the seminar chairing policy suggestions of the British Philosophical Association / SWIP Good Practice Scheme at future SSHAP meetings and include them in the welcome packet for all SSHAP meetings.
  • gender balance in chairing sessions and panels should be sought.
  • keynote speakers should be fully funded and advertised equally.
  • childcare provisions, if available, should be advertised to all participants in advance of the meeting.
  • childcare provisions should be sought by conference organizers.
  • gender balance in executive committee meetings should be sought.
  • where SSHAP raises funds for conferences and seminars, 1(a)-1(f) of the BPA/SWIP Good Practice recommendations should be followed.

Eva Picardi, 1948-2017

Eva Picardi, Professor Emerita at the University of Bologna, has died on April 23, 2017.  She was a central member of the community of historians of analytic philosophers, and has served on the Advisory Board of the Journal for the History of Analytic Philosophy since its inception.

Prof. Picardi received her DPhil under Michael Dummett at Oxford in 1984, and worked with Georg Henrik van Wright in 1986 and with Christian Thiel as a Humboldt Fellow in 1988/89. She is the author of Assertibility and Truth. A Study of Fregean Themes (1981), Linguaggio e analisi filosofica (1992), La chimica dei concetti (1994), Le teorie del significato (1999) and numerous articles on Frege, Peano, Russell and the philosophy of language more broadly. She has also edited and translated into Italian Frege’s Nachlaß (1981) as well as his papers from 1890-1897 (2001, with Carlo Penco).

Prof. Picardi was a founding member and past president of the Italian Society for Analytic Philosophy. Her work contributed significantly to establishing the history of analytic philosophy as a field, and to establishing analytic philosophy in Italy and on the European continent.

SSHAP and the JHAP editorial board send their condolences to Prof. Picardi’s family, friends, and colleagues.

On Operator N and Wittgenstein’s Logical Philosophy

Volume 5.4 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online.

It features an article by James R. Connelly entitled, “On Operator N and Wittgenstein’s Logical Philosophy”. Here is an abstract.

In this paper, I provide a new reading of Wittgenstein’s N operator, and of its significance within his early logical philosophy. I thereby aim to resolve a longstanding scholarly controversy concerning the expressive completeness of N. Within the debate between Fogelin and Geach in particular, an apparent dilemma emerged to the effect that we must either concede Fogelin’s claim that N is expressively incomplete, or reject certain fundamental tenets within Wittgenstein’s logical philosophy. Despite their various points of disagreement, however, Fogelin and Geach nevertheless share several common and problematic assumptions regarding Wittgenstein’s logical philosophy, and it is these mistaken assumptions which are the source of the dilemma. Once we recognize and correct these, and other, associated expository errors, it will become clear how to reconcile the expressive completeness of Wittgenstein’s N operator, with several commonly recognized features of, and fundamental theses within, the Tractarian logical system.

The issue also contains a review of Sebastian Sunday Grève and Jakub Mácha, eds. Wittgenstein and the Creativity of Language, written by Craig Fox.

JHAP is a free, open access journal. It is available at Submissions welcome.

Not Just Errors: A New Interpretation of Mackie’s Error Theory

Volume 5.3 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online.

It features an article by Victor Moberger entitled, “Not Just Errors: A New Interpretation of Mackie’s Error Theory”.

Here is an abstract:

J. L. Mackie famously argued that a commitment to non-existent objective values permeates ordinary moral thought and discourse. According to a standard interpretation, Mackie construed this commitment as a universal and indeed essential feature of moral judgments. In this paper I argue that we should rather ascribe to Mackie a form of semantic pluralism, according to which not all moral judgments involve the commitment to objective values. This interpretation not only makes better sense of what Mackie actually says, but also renders his error theory immune to a powerful objection.

The volume also contains a review of Cheryl Misak’s book, Cambridge Pragmatism: From Peirce and James to Ramsey and Wittgenstein, written by John Capps.

JHAP is a free and open-access journal. Submissions welcome at

Bertrand Russell Visiting Professor

The Department of Philosophy at McMaster University invites applications for a Visiting Professorship in Russell and the History of Early Analytic Philosophy for 2017-2018. McMaster University, which houses the Bertrand Russell Archives and the Bertrand Russell Research Centre, is one of the leading centres for research on Russell’s philosophy. 

The Visiting Professorships, one of which will be available each year, are intended for established scholars whose research would be benefited by access to the Bertrand Russell Archives for an extended period. They are tenable for either one or two semesters, and involve the obligation to present at least one paper in the Philosophy Department’s Speakers Series and teach one fourth year undergraduate course also open to graduates, preferably on the history of analytic philosophy (although a different topic may be agreed upon with the Chair of the Department of Philosophy), while undertaking research in the Russell Archives. The stipend for teaching the course is up to $16,627.00, depending on rank, in accordance with the standard schedule for overload teaching. 

It is expected that successful applicants will be on research leave from their home university during the term of their Visiting Professorship and thus can rely on their regular leave salary for their main financial support. 

Review of applications will commence on April 15, 2017

How to Apply: 

Applicants must submit their application through the University’s electronic portal at Please include a CV together with a description of the research you propose to conduct at the Russell Archives. 

Queries should be addressed to Dr. Stefan Sciaraffa, Chair, Department of Philosophy at 

To comply with the Government of Canada’s reporting requirements, the University is obliged to gather information about applicants’ status as either Permanent Residents of Canada or Canadian citizens. Applicants need not identify their country of origin or current citizenship, however, all applications must include one of the following statements: 

Yes, I am a citizen or permanent resident of Canada 

No, I am not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada 

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply. However, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority for these positions. McMaster University is strongly committed to employment equity within its community and to recruiting a diverse faculty and staff. The University encourages applications from all qualified candidates including women, persons with disabilities, First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons, members of racialized communities and LGBTQ-identified persons. If you require any form of accommodation throughout the recruitment and selection procedure, please contact the Human Resources Service Centre at 905-525-9140 ext. 222-HR (22247).