All posts by Marcus Rossberg

About Marcus Rossberg

Editor-in-Chief, Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy; Associate Professor, University of Connecticut

Gilbert Ryle and the Ethical Impetus for Know-How

Volume 8.1 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Matt Dougherty entitled “Gilbert Ryle and the Ethical Impetus for Know-How”. Here is an abstract:

This paper aims to shed light on an underexplored aspect of Gilbert Ryle’s interest in the notion of “knowing-how”. It is argued that in addition to his motive of discounting a certain theory of mind, his interest in the notion also stemmed (and perhaps stemmed more deeply) from two ethical interests: one concerning his own life as a philosopher and whether the philosopher has any meaningful task, and one concerning the ancient issue of whether virtue is a kind of knowledge. It is argued that Ryle saw know-how as crucial in both respects and, also, that he continued to be interested in these ethical issues throughout his career.

JHAP is a free, open-access peer reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Healing the Rift: How G. H. von Wright Made Philosophy Relevant to His Life

Volume 7.8 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Bernt Österman entitled “Healing the Rift: How G. H. von Wright Made Philosophy Relevant to His Life”. Here is an abstract:

In the introductory “Intellectual Autobiography” of the Georg Henrik von Wright volume of the Library of Living Philosophers series, von Wright mentions the discrepancy he always felt between his narrow logical-analytical professional work and a drive to make philosophy relevant to his life, calling it a rift in his philosophical personality. This article examines the nature of the rift and the various stages the problem went through during von Wright’s career. It is argued that the initial impression that his books The Varieties of Goodness and Explanation and Understanding had contributed to healing the rift, was subdued by a gradual shift in existential focus from individualistic ethics towards a critical concern for destructive ways of thinking inherent in the Western culture, connected with von Wright’s “political awakening” at the end of the 1960s. The most urgent questions of our times called for novel, non-analytical, ways of doing philosophy, employed in von Wright’s later works on science and reason, and the myth of progress. Eventually von Wright’s earlier methodological concerns were also alleviated by his belief that logical-analytical philosophy was inherently unsuitable for exposing the cultural structures it was very much a part of.

JHAP is a free, open-access peer reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!


“Die Machine als Symbol ihrer Wirkungsweise”: Wittgenstein, Reuleaux, and Kinematics / Review of work on Quine

Volume 7.7 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Sébastien Gandon entitled “‘Die Machine als Symbol ihrer Wirkungsweise’: Wittgenstein, Reuleaux, and Kinematics”. Here is an abstract:

In Philosophical Investigations 193–94, Wittgenstein draws a notorious analogy between the working of a machine and the application of a rule. According to the view of rule-following that Wittgenstein is criticizing, the future applications of a rule are completely determined by the rule itself, as the movements of the machine components are completely determined by the machine configuration. On what conception of the machine is such an analogy based? In this paper, I intend to show that Wittgenstein relied on quite a specific scientific tradition very active at the beginning of the twentieth century: the kinematic or the general science of machines. To explain the fundamental tenets of this line of research and its links with Wittgenstein, I focus on Franz Reuleaux (1829–1905), whose works were known to Wittgenstein.

The first payoff of this investigation is to help distance the functionalist framework from which this passage is often read: Wittgenstein’s machines are not (or not primarily) computers. The second payoff is to explain why Wittgenstein talks about machines at this place in his discussion on rule-following: it is not the machine model in itself that is criticized in PI 193–94, but the “philosophical” temptation to generalize from it.

The volume also contains a review of Frederique Jansen-Lauret and Gary Kemp, eds., Quine and His Place in History (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), written by James Andrew Smith, Jr..

JHAP is a free, open-access, peer-reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Goodman’s Many Worlds / Review of work on Ramsey

Volume 7.6 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Alexandre Declos entitled “Goodman’s Many Worlds”. Here is an abstract:

In this paper, I examine Nelson Goodman’s pluriworldism, understood as the claim that there exists a plurality of actual worlds. This proposal has generally been quickly dismissed in the philosophical literature. I argue that we ought to take it more seriously. As I show, many of the prima facie objections to pluriworldism may receive straightforward answers. I also examine in detail Goodman’s argument for the conclusion that there are many worlds and attempt to show how it might be supported. Eventually, I discuss some underexplored challenges to pluriworldism.

The volume also contains a review of Steven Methven, Frank Ramsey and the Realistic Spirit (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), written by Cheryl Misak.

JHAP is a free, open-access peer reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Carnap on Analyticity and Existence / Review of work on Quine, Goodman, Popper, and Wittgenstein

Volume 7.5 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Gary Ebbs entitled “Carnap on Analyticity and Existence: A Clarification, Defense, and Development of Quine’s Reading of Carnap’s Views on Ontology”. Here is an abstract:

Does Carnap’s treatment of philosophical questions about existence, such as “Are there numbers?” and “Are there physical objects?”, depend on his analytic–synthetic distinction? If so, in what way? I answer these questions by clarifying, defending, and developing the reading of Carnap’s paper “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” that W. V. Quine proposes, with little justification or explanation, in his paper “On Carnap’s Views on Ontology”. The primary methodological value of studying Quine’s reading of “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” is that it prompts us to look for, and helps us to see the significance of, passages by Carnap that reveal the logical foundations of his views on ontology. Guided in this way by Quine’s reading, I show that (1) in “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” Carnap’s preferred treatment of philosophical questions relies on paraphrasing them so that their answers are immediately obvious elementary logical truths, and are therefore, by his standards, trivially analytic; and (2) in its most general form, Carnap’s treatment of philosophical questions about existence depends on his controversial view that the analytic truths of a language L may include sentences that are not elementary logical truths, but that are nevertheless, by Carnap’s standards, analytic-in-L simply because we have stipulated that they are to be among the “meaning postulates” of L.

The volume also contains a review of Bredo Johnsen, Righting Epistemology: Hume’s Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), written by Matthew Carlson.

JHAP is a free, open-access peer reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Verificationism and (Some of) its Discontents

Volume 7.4 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Thomas Uebel entitled “Verificationism and (Some of) its Discontents”. Here is an abstract:

Verificationism has had a bad press for many years. The view that the meaning of our words is bound up with the discernible difference it would make if what we say, think or write were true or false, nowadays is scorned as “positivist” though it was shared by eminent empiricists and pragmatists. This paper seeks to sort through some of the complexities of what is often portrayed as an unduly simplistic conception. I begin with an overview of its main logical empiricist varieties before considering which aspects of it fall victim to which of the three major types of objection that have been raised against it. I will conclude that what is left standing is a modest proposal that seems worth further investigation.

JHAP is a free, open-access peer reviewed journal. It is available at https://jhaponline.org/. Submissions welcome!

Book Symposium: Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity by Peter Olen

Volume 7.3 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open access.

The contributions included in this volume were originally prepared for an “Author Meets Critics” session on Peter Olen’s book Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity, organized by Carl Sachs for the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Savannah, Georgia, on 5th January, 2018.

Table of contents

  1. Catherine Legg: Peter Olen: Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity
  2. David Beisecker: On Peter Olen’s Wilfrid Sellars and the Foundations of Normativity
  3. Mark Lance: Rejecting the pure, but keeping the pragmatics
  4. Peter Olen: Response to Critics

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