All posts by Marcus Rossberg

About Marcus Rossberg

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

The Birth of Semantics

Volume 8.6 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Richard Kimberly Heck and Robert C. May entitled, “The Birth of Semantics”. Here is an abstract:

We attempt here to trace the evolution of Frege’s thought about truth. What most frames the way we approach the problem is a recognition that hardly any of Frege’s most familiar claims about truth appear in his earliest work. We argue that Frege’s mature views about truth emerge from a fundamental re-thinking of the nature of logic instigated, in large part, by a sustained engagement with the work of George Boole and his followers, after the publication of Begriffsschrift and the appearance of critical reviews by members of the Boolean school.

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

Davidson’s Wittgenstein

Volume 8.5 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Ali Hossein Khani entitled, “Davidson’s Wittgenstein”. Here is an abstract:

Although the later Wittgenstein appears as one of the most influential figures in Davidson’s later works on meaning, it is not, for the most part, clear how Davidson interprets and employs Wittgenstein’s ideas. In this paper, I will argue that Davidson’s later works on meaning can be seen as mainly a manifestation of his attempt to accommodate the later Wittgenstein’s basic ideas about meaning and understanding, especially the requirement of drawing the seems right/is right distinction and the way this requirement must be met. These ideas, however, are interpreted by Davidson in his own way. I will then argue that Davidson even attempts to respect Wittgenstein’s quietism, provided that we understand this view in the way Davidson does. Having argued for that, I will finally investigate whether, for Davidson at least, his more theoretical and supposedly explanatory projects, such as that of constructing a formal theory of meaning and his use of the notion of triangulation, are in conflict with this Wittgensteinian quietist view.

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

Reinventing Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong

Volume 8.4 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Michael Ridge entitled, “Reinventing Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong”. Here is an abstract:

I offer new arguments for an unorthodox reading of J. L. Mackie’s Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, one on which Mackie does not think all substantive moral claims are false, but allows that a proper subset of them are true.  Further, those that are true should be understood in terms of a “hybrid theory”. The proposed reading is one on which Mackie is a conceptual pruner, arguing that we should prune away error-ridden moral claims but hold onto those already free of error. This reading is very different from the standard ones found in the literature. I build on recent work by Moberger and argue that this reading is better corroborated by close attention to the way in which Mackie argues at length that terms like “good” and “ought” are systematically context-sensitive, as well as by considerable additional textual evidence. This reading, however, faces an important challenge—to explain in what sense, if any, morality retains its “normativity” on the proposed reading. I argue that this challenge can be met, at least given some of Mackie’s further assumptions about the nature of rationality.

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

Russell’s Use Theory of Meaning / Review of work on Wittgenstein

Volume 8.3 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Nicholas Griffin entitled, “Russell’s Use Theory of Meaning”. Here is an abstract:

Russell is often accused of having a naive ‘Fido’–Fido theory of meaning of the sort Wittgenstein attacked at the beginning of the Philosophical Investigations. In this paper I argue that he never held such a theory though I concede that, prior to 1918, he said various things that might lead a very careless reader to suppose that he had. However, in The Analysis of Mind (1921), a book which (from the work of Garth Hallett) we know Wittgenstein studied closely, Russell put forward an account of understanding an utterance which clearly anticipates the use theory of meaning usually attributed to Wittgenstein. The paper concludes with some problems for understanding the use theory of meaning as presented by both Russell and, derivatively, Wittgenstein.

The volume also contains a review of David G. Stern, Brian Rogers, and Gabriel Citron, eds., Wittgenstein: Lectures, Cambridge 1930-1933: From the Notes of G. E. Moore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), written by Mauro Luiz Engelmann.

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

What is the Sceptical Solution? / Review of work on the philosophy of mind

Volume 8.2 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Alexander Miller entitled, “What is the Sceptical Solution?”. Here is an abstract:

In chapter 3 of Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Kripke’s Wittgenstein offers a “sceptical solution” to the sceptical paradox about meaning developed in chapter 2 (according to which there are no facts in virtue of which ascriptions of meaning such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’” can be true). Although many commentators have taken the sceptical solution to be broadly analogous to non-factualist theories in other domains, such as non-cognitivism or expressivism in metaethics, the nature of the sceptical solution has not been well-understood. The main aim of this paper is to advance our understanding of the nature of the non-factualism about meaning proposed in the sceptical solution. It attempts to outline some desiderata that should be respected by interpretations of the sceptical solution and considers two objections raised against it in Barry Stroud’s paper “Wittgenstein on Meaning, Understanding and Community”. It attempts to correct misconstruals of the sceptical solution that have been promulgated by Davidson and some of his followers and suggests that the sceptical solution developed by Kripke’s Wittgenstein is best viewed as a form of quasi-realism about meaning. It ends by outlining what it takes to be the most pressing challenges facing the sceptical solution.

The volume also contains a review of Sandra Lapointe, ed., Philosophy of Mind in the Nineteenth Century (London: Routledge, 2018), written by Steven Horst.

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

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!