Category Archives: News

Announcements and news from the Society, including Calls for Papers, Calls for Participation, Notices of Meetings, and Membership Updates.

Roman Ingarden and Verificationism

Volume 6.6 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

This is issue deals with Roman Ingarden’s critique of verificationism. It begins with a translation, by Bernard Linsky, of Ingarden’s “The Logical Attempt at a New Formulation of Philosophy: A Critical Remark”. Here is an abstract:

This is the first English translation of Roman Ingarden’s paper presented at the 8th World Congress of Philosophy held in Prague in 1934: “Der Logistische Versuch einer Neugestaltung der Philosophie: Eine Kritische Bemerkung”, translated here as “The Logical Attempt at a New Formulation of Philosophy: A Critical Remark”. Also translated here are brief discussions by Rudolf Carnap and Otto Neurath. These essays were published in the original German in the Proceedings of the Congress in 1936. This statement of Ingarden’s criticisms of the doctrines of the Vienna Circle has been mentioned in print, but his views have not been discussed, or indeed accurately reported to date.

Secondly, the volume contains a companion paper by Francis Jeffry Pelletier and Bernard Linsky, entitled “Verification: The Hysteron Proteron Argument”:

This paper investigates the strange case of an argument that was directed against a positivist verification principle. We find an early occurrence of the argument in a talk by the phenomenologist Roman Ingarden at the 1934 International Congress of Philosophy in Prague, where Carnap and Neurath were present and contributed short rejoinders. We discuss the underlying presuppositons of the argument, and we evaluate whether the attempts by Carnap (especially) actually succeed in answering this argument. We think they don’t, and offer instead a few sociological thoughts about why the argument seems to have disappeared from the profession’s evaluaton of the positivist criterion of verifiability.

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

SSHAP 2018 Registration Open

Registration is now open for the upcoming SSHAP conference to be held June 19-21 at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. Please follow the link below to our web portal where you can register for the conference.

The fees are as follows:

Registration (includes, conference material, boxed lunches, coffee breaks and transaction fee ($5))

  • Full-time: $105
  • Student/Retired/Unemployed: $65

In addition to the conference fee, we kindly ask that you register in advance for the conference dinner on 20th June at Radius. We have also made reservations for those of us who want to take advantage of the good company and made a reservation at the Brux House on 19th June. We’re not sure how many people we’ll be able to fit in – hopefully everyone! – so please make sure to put your name on the waitlist if the tickets have sold out by the time you register!

  • First Day Conference Bash @ (limited places*; includes taxes (13%), service (18%) and transaction fee ($5)): $75
  • 20th June Conference Dinner @ (includes taxes (13%), service (18%) and transaction fee ($5); Click HERE for set menu options) : $70

lease let us know by June 1st if you have any dietary restrictions.

Please note that registration closes on JUNE 1st.

 If you have not done so already, please accept this gentle reminder to book your accommodations as early as possible.  You are welcome to make reservations downtown, at the hotel of your choice, which is also where most of the socializing will be done. Alternatively, you may prefer to stay on campus at one of McMaster’s affordable guest accommodations (see link below).

Thanks very much. We are excited to see you all very soon.

Priority and Unity in Frege and Wittgenstein

Volume 6.5 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Oliver Thomas Spinney entitled “Priority and Unity in Frege and Wittgenstein”. Here is an abstract:

In the following article I intend to examine the problem of the unity of the proposition in Russell, Frege, and Wittgenstein. My chief aim will be to draw attention to the distinction between Russell’s conception of propositional constituents, on the one hand, with Frege and Wittgenstein’s on the other. My focus will be on Russell’s view of terms as independent, propositions being built up out of these building blocks, compared with Frege and Wittgenstein’s ‘top down’ approach. Furthermore, I will argue that, contra certain other commentators, Frege’s metaphor of saturation and unsaturation does not serve as a solution to the problem of unity, and that the extension of this metaphorical language to Wittgenstein is, therefore, inappropriate.

The volume also contains a review of Erik C. Banks, The Realistic Empiricism of Mach, James, and Russell: Neutral Monism Reconceived (Cambridge University Press, 2014), written by Gary Hatfield.

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

SSHAP 2018 Program and Abstracts

The Society for the Study of the History of Philosophy 2017 Annual Meeting will be held June 19-21, 2017 at McMaster University, Canada, and is sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities, the Bertrand Russell Research Centre and the McMaster Libraries.

The program and abstracts follow below.

Day 1: Tuesday, June 19

1A: The Rejection of Metaphysics? 1B: Popper 1C: Arithmetic and Platonism
9am Richard Creath, Arizona State University, What Was Carnap Rejecting When He Rejected Metaphysics? Nathan Oseroff, King’s College London, ‘Address three popular philosophic myths about Karl Popper’s demarcation criteria’ Joan Weiner, Indiana University, Bloomington, Frege, Benacerraf, and the Beast of Reality
10am Katarina Perovic, University of Iowa, Metaphysics and its Pseudo-problems in Early Analytic Philosophy Jamie Shaw, University of Western Ontario, The Janus-faced Nature of Popper’s Falsificationism Bernard Linsky, University of Alberta, Leon Chwistek on Platonism and Constructivism

11am: Coffee break

11:30 am: Session 2: Plenary Talk

Lydia Patton, Virginia Tech , TBA

1-2pm: Lunch

3A: Frege 1 3B: Wittgenstein
2pm Sanford Shieh, Wesleyan University, Frege on Kant’s Urteilstafel Yi Jiang, Beijing Normal University, Wittgenstein’s Discussion on Color
3pm Michael Hicks, Miami University, Connotation and Frege’s Semantic Dualism Joshua Eisenthal, University of Pittsburgh, Wittgenstein’s simple objects and Hertz’s dynamical models
4:15pm Jim Hutchinson, University of California, Berkeley, Frege on Justifying Logical Axioms James Connelly, Trent University, Wittgenstein and Transfinite Number

Day 2: Wednesday, June 20th

4A: Epistemology 4B: Quine 4C: Frege 2
9 am Richard Lawrence, University of California, Berkeley, Frege’s epistemological understanding of objects and concepts Greg Frost-Arnold, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, The Ontogeny of Quine’s Ontology: The Role of Clarity in Quine’s Ontological Development Min Huang, Sun Yat-sen University, China, The Rule-Following Argument and Frege’s Notion of Truth
10am Gregory Landini, University of Iowa, Repairing Russell’s 1913 Theory of Knowledge Gary Ebbs, Indiana University, Bloomington, Is Quine more Carnapian than Carnap? Erich Reck, University of California, Riverside, The Logic in Frege’s Logicism

11am: Coffee break

11:30am: Session 5: Plenary Talk

Michael Beaney, King’s College London/Humboldt University Berlin, First Steps and Conceptual Creativity

1pm: AGM/Lunch

6A: Carnap 6B: Continental Influences
2pm Derek Anderson, Boston University, Explaining Carnap’s Semantic Turn Manish Oza, University of Toronto, Husserl’s theory of logic: contradiction and countersense
3pm Gregory Lavers, Concordia University, Carnap, Turing and the Paradox of Analysis Andreas Vrahimis, University of Cyprus, The Vienna Circle’s responses to Lebensphilosophie
4:15pm Yousuf Hasan, University of Western Ontario, On the Application of Carnap’s Internal/External Distinction to the Realism/Anti-Realism Controversy Sandra Lapointe, McMaster University, Form and Matter in Modern Logic, Before and After Kant

Day 3: Thursday, June 21st

7A: Russell’s Mathematics 7B: Philosophy of Mind 7C: Women Analytic Philosophers
9am Kevin Klement, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Moore’s Unpublished Review of Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics Sander Verhaegh, Tilburg University, ‘Mental States are like Diseases’: Skinner’s influence on Quine’s Behaviorism Michael Kremer, University of Chicago, Margaret MacDonald and Gilbert Ryle: A Lost Philosophical Friendship
10am Landon Elkind, University of Iowa, Computer Verification for Historians of Philosophy: A Computer-Assisted, Historically-Faithful Rewrite of Principia Mathematica James Pearson, Bridgewater State University, Objectivity Socialized Teresa Kouri, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Learning from Stebbing’s Ideals and Illusions

11am: Coffee break

11:30am: Session 8: Plenary Talk

Nick Griffin, McMaster University, TBA

1pm: Lunch

9A: Ethics & Aesthetics 9B: Philosophy of Geometry 9C: Russell 2
2pm Brian Land, Temple University, Species, Definition, and Intrinsic Goodness: The Role of Natural Kinds in Neo-Aristotelian Ethics Bertrand Shelby, University of Ottawa, Leibnizian Geometry as a Conceptual Foundation for Spacetime Relativity Iva Apostolova and Robert Davies, Dominican University College and University of York, Russell and Ryle on Recollection and Retrospection
3pm Dena Shottenkirk, Brooklyn College, The Problem with Nelson Goodman Robert DiSalle, University of Western Ontario, Carnap, Einstein, and the empirical foundations of geometry Jeremy Shipley, Volunteer State Community College, Why Russell Was not an Epistemic Structural Realist


Derek Anderson, Boston University

Explaining Carnap’s Semantic Turn

This paper explores Carnap’s reason for abandoning a strict syntacticism in favor of a semantic approach after encountering Tarski’s theory of truth. I argue against an explanation advanced by Coffa (1987) and others according to which Carnap’s Logical Syntax of Language implicitly contained semantic elements and that his encounter with Tarski merely revealed this fact to him.

Iva Apostolova and Robert Davies, Dominican University College and University of York

Russell and Ryle on Recollection and Retrospection

We will compare Russell’s views on introspection and memory with Ryle’s views on recollection and retrospection. This comparison is inspired by a two-pronged belief that (i) there are common but non-trivial philosophical roots between the two thinkers that are worth uncovering and (ii) there is continuity in their respective philosophies of mind, especially where the move toward replacing introspection with recollection (memory) is concerned. In following Russell’s development in the neutral monist period and the increasing importance of the faculty of memory, we will turn to Ryle’s views which for us reinforce some of the conclusions that Russell reached. Ryle (1949) thought that the work of introspection could be explained by what he took to be the genuine capacity of retrospection. In doing so he concluded that there was no difference in kind between knowledge of one’s own mind and knowledge of the minds of others. We conclude that a preoccupation with denouncing Cartesianism may have prevented Ryle from an alternative, and arguably richer, conclusion: that the supposed asymmetries between self-knowledge and knowledge of other minds do not need to be rejected, but instead can be explained by an appropriate view of memory, something to which, we think, Russell would have been rather sympathetic.

Michael Beaney, Humboldt Universitaet Berlin / King’s College London

First Steps and Conceptual Creativity

In §308 of the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein talks of the first step in philosophizing being “the one that altogether escapes notice … that’s just what commits us to a particular way of looking at the matter”. He is discussing here the problem of mental states and processes, but a particularly good example of such a first step is Frege’s use of function–argument analysis and the associated conception of concepts as functions, which led to almost all his characteristic doctrines, as well as certain paradoxes, such as the paradox of the concept “horse” and Russell’s paradox. And yet there is value in seeing concepts as functions: it made the development of modern logic possible. Other first steps may also seem innocent, such as Cantor’s conception of sameness of number as one–one correspondence, which enabled him to introduce—or ‘create’—the concept of a transfinite number. The conceptual creativity involved here is analogous to Frege’s reconceiving concepts as functions: in each case a relevant practice needs to be established and ‘intuitions’ crystallized, as it might be put, for the relevant conception to acquire meaning and objectivity. It is tempting to conceptualize this process as originating in some ‘Eureka!’ moment and as catching on when others can exclaim “Now I can go on!”; but all this needs careful description to avoid mythologization. In this paper I explore some of the connections between conceptual creativity and the kind of ‘first steps’ of which Wittgenstein spoke.

James Connelly, Trent University

Wittgenstein and Transfinite Number

In his introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, Russell identifies an apparent ‘lacuna’ (TLP, xxiii) within Wittgenstein’s theory of number, relating specifically to the topic of transfinite number. According to Russell, Wittgenstein’s theory ‘is only capable of dealing with finite numbers,’ and ‘(n)o logic can be considered adequate until it has been shown to be capable of dealing with transfinite numbers.’ (ibid.,) In this paper, I will argue that, consistent with Russell’s assessment, Wittgenstein’s logical theory requires transfinite numbers, and that his theory of number can generate them straightforwardly by making recourse to recursive operations and to the general form of operations.

Richard Creath, Arizona State University

What Was Carnap Rejecting When He Rejected Metaphysics?

Albert Einstein never received the Nobel Prize for his theories of relativity, apparently in no small measure because of opposition from the French philosopher, Henri Bergson. While hardly the origin of Carnap’s rejection of metaphysics, it is in some ways the perfect illustration of what Carnap objected to. By contrast, Carnap did not object in the same way to Reichenbach’s assertions about what was scientifically real or to Quine’s ontological project. In this paper I consider cases such as these in order to arrive at a more nuanced picture of what Carnap was rejecting when he rejected metaphysics. This enriched picture is squarely at odds with a widely accepted contemporary interpretation according to which Carnap is “dismissive” of the entire field of ontology and of the field of metaphysics more broadly. I show that Carnap’s aim was to transform the field rather than to dismiss it. What he wanted to overcome, uproot, and demolish was a specific, though widespread, approach to the field that he held to be injurious to the progress of science.

Robert DiSalle, University of Western Ontario

Carnap, Einstein, and the empirical foundations of geometry

Carnap’s view of the relation between a formal theory and its observational basis was intended, in part, to characterize the sense in which physical theories make genuinely synthetic claims about the empirical world. It was also intended to capture Einstein’s insights into the empirical content of space-time geometry. Einstein offered a reductive analysis of the empirical foundation of geometry, reducing geometrical measurements to observations of “point-coincidences”. This reductive argument in turn inspired Carnap’s conception of the empirical content of formal theories. This paper critically analyzes the Carnap’s account of the empirical, synthetic character of physical geometry, as distinct from the analytic character of its mathematical formalism. It outlines an alternative account, based in the history of the epistemology of geometry,” of the relation between theoretical structures and the empirical descriptions that they aim to capture.

Gary Ebbs, Indiana University, Bloomington

Is Quine more Carnapian than Carnap?

Quine once said that his criticisms of Carnap’s analytic-synthetic distinction are an expression of “the same sort of attitude, the sort of discipline that Carnap shared and that I owed, certainly, in part to Carnap’s influence: I was just being more carnapian than Carnap in being critical on this question.” To test this remark, I try to reconstruct Quine’s criticisms of Carnap’s analytic-synthetic distinction in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” especially section 4, so that the criticisms are rooted solely in attitudes and commitments that Quine shares with Carnap. The reconstruction I recommend reveals that Quine’s reasoning amounts to a powerful and systematic internal criticism of Carnap’s efforts to draw a boundary between analytic and synthetic statements.

Joshua Eisenthal, University of Pittsburgh

Wittgenstein’s simple objects and Hertz’s dynamical models

Among the interpretive problems concerning Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, at least two have proved particularly persistent. The first concerns the mystery surrounding Tractarian ‘simple objects’; the second concerns the influence of the physicist Heinrich Hertz. Although Hertz’s major work, Principles of Mechanics, is cited in the Tractatus, the details of Hertz’s influence on Wittgenstein remain largely unaccounted for. I show that a central aspect of these two interpretive problems can be solved together. I articulate Hertz’s influence on the Tractarian notions of analysis and simplicity, and argue that this significantly alleviates the mystery concerning Wittgenstein’s simple objects.

Landon Elkind, University of Iowa

Computer Verification for Historians of Philosophy: A Computer-Assisted, Historically-Faithful Rewrite of Principia Mathematica

An under-explored area of application of computer proof-assistants is history of philosophy: they can be leveraged in textual reconstruction, particularly in formally checking textual reconstructions of philosophical arguments. This is especially noticeable inhistory of logic, where some arguments are formal proofs. The tricky part is to rewrite philosophical arguments (proofs, in our case) in a way that is historically accurate. For the data produced by a historically-accurate computer-assisted rewrite is helpful in evaluating long-standing controversies over the interpretation of a text. Here I so-use the proof-assistant Coq in a faithfully rewrite of the propositional logic of Principia Mathematica.

Greg Frost-Arnold, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

The Ontogeny of Quine’s Ontology: The Role of Clarity in Quine’s Ontological Development

W. V. O. Quine’s philosophical views did not emerge fully formed in the 1930s. Rather, they changed over the seven decades he was philosophically active. Here, I investigate two episodes in Quine’s ontological development during the 1940s: his brief engagement with Pythagoreanism, and his conversion from nominalism to Platonism about mathematics. Although these two episodesmight seem completely distinct at first glance, I treat them together via consideration of the important role that the theoretical virtue of clarity plays in both of them. Quine’s changing views about the nature and importance of clarity, and about which particular concepts and claims are clear, help explain his ontological development. In particular, I propose a new hypothesis about the causes of Quine’s conversion from nominalism to Platonism, in which his changing attitudes toward clarity play an essential role.

Nicholas Griffin, McMaster University


Yousuf Hasan, University of Western Ontario

On the Application of Carnap’s Internal/External Distinction to the Realism/Anti-Realism Controversy

In recent scholarship, Penelope Maddy, made an objection to Carnap’s internal/external distinction using the example of the atomic hypothesis and argued that not only the internal/external distinction was unsuccessful for talking about atoms, but that it should be dismissed altogether (2008). According to William Demopoulos, however, we can develop an understanding of the distinction that does not reduce the atomic hypothesis to a mere linguistic proposal (2011). In my talk, I will use Crispin Wright’s pluralist account of truth (1992) to propose other semantic ways that realists and instrumentalists differ from each other beyond what Demopoulos has already suggested.

Michael Hicks, Miami University

Connation and Frege’s Semantic Dualism

The tendency to characterize theories of names as either “Millian” or “Fregean” depends, it has long been known, on tendentious interpretation. The mistake goes deeper than has been thought: Millian connotation ought to be compared not to Fregean sense but to Fregean concepts. Mill’s denial of connotation to names is an attempt to articulate Frege’s distinction between concepts and objects, the semantic dualism of my title. I close by suggesting that Russell might be at fault for the trouble post-Russellian readers have had in identifying this point.

Min Huang, Sun Yat-sen University, China

The Rule-Following Argument and Frege’s Notion of Truth

This paper demonstrates the structure and purpose of Wittgenstein’s rule-following argument (RFA) through a close examination of the text of Philosophical Investigations. I argue that the RFA has a deep connection with one of Frege’s ideas about truth, which I term ‘the inertness thesis about truth’. Having established this connection, we see how Wittgenstein contrives to induce the reader to the contrast between practical and theoretical attitudes towards rules. His argument is that practical attitudes, rather than theoretical attitudes, are possible. Wittgenstein’s quietism and the notion of privacy are also addressed.

Jim Hutchinson, University of California, Berkeley

Frege on Justifying Logical Axioms

We can uncover an interesting approach to the justification of logical axioms and learn something about the origins of analytic philosophy by resolving a central outstanding interpretive puzzle about Frege: why does he insist that logical axioms are “self-evident”, and then go on to argue for them? I argue that he is pursuing the prevailing Neo-Kantian approach to justifying “self-evident” axioms, which requires us to derive axioms from a cognitive goal that is presupposed. These arguments provide justification by showing us what else must be true, if our cognitive goals can be reached.

Yi Jiang, Beijing Normal University

Wittgenstein’s Discussion on Color

The color problem had been remarked throughout Wittgenstein’s lifetime. But in different periods, he discussed colors with different purposes and rationales. The color problem came as a way to discuss the logical structure in his early work―Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, andin the middle period of his thought, colors were regarded as an illustration for the propositional expression. But the main purpose of remarks on color in his later thought was to clarify the use of color terms. In this paper I claim that Wittgenstein did not put forward any theory of colors though he had numerous remarks on color terms. His discussions on the usages of color terms constitute an important part of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy.

Kevin Klement, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Moore’s Unpublished Review of Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics

G. E. Moore was commissioned to write a review of Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics (PoM; 1903); he wrote this review in 1905, completing it by October. He was evidently unhappy with it, however, and and withdrew it from publication. However, his manuscript survives. In it, he addresses Russell’s claim to have reduced mathematics to logic, complains that Russell’s notion of material implication couldn’t always be what Russell himself meant by “implication”, and questions whether or not the notions of infinity identifed in PoM are exhaustive. This last worry is illustrated by a rival interpretation Moore gives about what is puzzling about Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the tortoise. Perhaps the most interesting point from the review for historians of analytic philosophy is Moore’s suggestion that mathematical concepts might all be equivalent with purely logical ones, without thereby being identical to them, which arguably sheds light on the relationship between Moore’s and Russell’s (differing?) conceptions of analysis.

Griffin Klemick, University of Toronto

C. I. Lewis’ Two Pragmatisms: Empirical Meaning, the A Priori, and How They Fit Together

C. I. Lewis is remembered for defending a pragmatist theory of the a priori, but he also offered a pragmatist theory of empirical meaning that eventually overtook the former theory in significance for his thinking. In this paper I offer an interpretation of the relation between the two theories. I argue against attempting to square the two theories either by reading the pragmatic a priori along Quinean lines or by denying the epistemic significance of the given. Instead, I suggest, the pragmatic element of the a priori concerns not a priori truth itself but the selection of concepts for interpreting given experience. And I argue that this pragmatic element persists even if the given epistemically constrains our interpretation of it.

Teresa Kouri, Old Dominion University in Norfolk,

Learning from Stebbing’s Ideals and Illusions

Susan Stebbing held that analytic philosophy had a role to play in political and scientific discourse, and this can be extended to include a modern notion of social justice. In this paper, I will examine Stebbing’s Ideals and Illusions, a book she wrote towards the end of her life during the second World War as a warning about the perils of not thinking carefully and elucidating thoughts clearly. I will show how we can apply some of the lessons she draws in Ideals and Illusions to general issues in social justice. I will focus specifically on immigration.

Michael Kremer, University of Chicago

Margaret MacDonald and Gilbert Ryle: A Lost Philosophical Friendship

Recently, I uncovered evidence of a close philosophical friendship between Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976), one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, and Margaret MacDonald (1903-1956), whose promising philosophical career was cut short by her untimely death. I will tell a minor detective story explaining this discovery, and briefly discuss its significance for understanding the work of both Ryle and MacDonald, and the neglected place of women in the history of twentieth century analytic philosophy.

Brian Land, Temple University

Species, Definition, and Intrinsic Goodness: The Role of Natural Kinds in Neo-Aristotelian Ethics

In this essay I consider the objection that species is insufficiently constitutive of an individual organism to ground a project such as is undertaken in Philippa Foot’s Natural Goodness. In response, I appeal to aspects of Aristotle’s understanding of essences to provide a way in which species might be understood as a kind of definition and defend that this notion of definition resolves the apparent problem.

Gregory Landini, University of Iowa

Repairing Russell’s 1913 Theory of Knowledge

This paper sketches the repairs in my book Completing Russell’s 1913 Theory of Knowledge (forthcoming) that salvage the acquaintance epistemology of Russell’s abandoned book Theory of Knowledge. The problems are three: direction, permutation and compositionality. Russell’s acquaintance epistemology of The Problems of Philosophy (1912) was designed to accommodate the synthetic a priori logic of Principia which, even then, is held to provide the value unique to the scientific philosophy of the original (1911-1916) logical atomism. In Theory of Knowledge, the acquaintance epistemology embraces not only acquaintance with universals but also with logical forms. This is its agony and ecstasy.

Sandra Lapointe, McMaster University

Form and Matter in Modern Logic, Before and After Kant

The distinction between form and matter has shaped the development of logic in a number of ways. However, few conceptions of the distinction are uncontroversial and/or unproblematic. In this paper, I examine the ways in which the form/matter distinction has been put to work in logic over the course of the last few centuries and how accounts of the nature and role of the distinction have varied alongside changes in the conception of the nature and subject matter of logic. The main lesson to draw from this investigation is as follows: there is no such thing as a “hylomorphic tradition” in logic.

Gregory Lavers, Concordia University

Carnap, Turing and the Paradox of Analysis

In 1942 C. H. Langford published a paper in the Schilpp volume on G. E. Moore that questions the possibility of giving a successful analysis. This paper contains the first published mention of the phrase ‘paradox of analysis’. Langford argued that any analysis must be either uninformative, if the analysandum and analysans have the same meaning, or incorrect otherwise. Rudolf Carnap saw this paradox as ruling out a certain view of analyses. The condition of correctness is too strong, and an explication (his term for analyses) must introduce a new notion. This notion of an explication becomes a cornerstone of Carnap’s philosophy. In his 1937 paper Alan Turing gives an analysis of the notion of what is effectively computable. Turing’s analysis is provably equivalent to others, including Alonzo Church’s analysis which slightly predated Turing’s, and has been singled out, by Gödel for example, as being a particularly successful analysis. In fact, Turing’s analysis seems to be successful in exactly the way that the paradox of analysis appears to rule out. That is, it is largely seen as both correctly capturing the intuitive notion of effective computation, and at the same time informative. In this paper I will identify what it is about Turing’s analysis that allows him to avoid the paradox of analysis. I will also identify lessons to be drawn from this case for a Carnapian.

Richard Lawrence, University of California, Berkeley

Frege’s epistemological understanding of objects and concepts

According to one standard reading of Frege, his distinction between objects and concepts is primarily an ontological distinction. I will argue, against this reading, that Frege instead sees the concept-object distinction primarily in *epistemological* terms. Whether something counts as a concept or an object depends on *how we grasp* the thought in which it occurs. Thus, something’s being an object or a concept is not a property it has independent of us, but depends on the role it plays in our thought and cognition. This interpretation expands the possibilities for a neo-Fregean philosophy of mathematics.

Bernard Linsky, University of Alberta

Leon Chwistek on Platonism and Constructivism

Leon Chwistek’s “Constructive Theory of Types” (1924) presents a “constructivist” account of mathematics and logic that he opposed to Platonism. This anti-Platonism is evidenced as early as his “The Law of Contradiction in the Light of Recent Investigations of Bertrand Russell” (1912), translated into English by Rose Rand, but only published in 2017. It continues twenty years later in Chwistek’s review of Roman Ingarden, “The Tragedy of Verbal Metaphysics” (1932), just recently translated into English in JHAP. Kurt Goedel later identified a “constructive” strain in Whitehead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica which he also saw in Chwistek. I will argue that Chwistek’s view of “constructivism” places him with Russell in the opposition to extensionality and Platonism in logic that was dominant in the Lwow-Warsaw school, and may in part explain why he is not generally included as a member of that school.

Nathan Oseroff, King’s College London

‘Address three popular philosophic myths about Karl Popper’s demarcation criteria’

There are three popular philosophic myths surrounding Popper’s demarcation problem and criteria: (1) Karl Popper’s demarcation criterion of falsifiability is his sole criterion of demarcation; (2) the criterion sets out the boundaries of the natural sciences from non-science (or pseudo-science); (3) this criterion explicitly applies solely to singular theories that are universal in scope. I show how all three myths, while immensely popular, are demonstrably false, and do a disservice to the history of early twentieth-century philosophy of science. I then locate where these myths likely originated in Popper’s oeuvre.

Manish Oza, University of Toronto

Husserl’s theory of logic: contradiction and countersense

I give an account of Husserl’s theory of logic in the Logical Investigations and Formal and Transcendental Logic, focusing on changes in Husserl’s treatment of contradiction and the associated category of ‘formal countersense’. Husserl’s early view distinguishes nonsense (ill-formed combinations of senses) from countersense (well-formed but necessarily false judgments). This view faces several problems – e.g. it implies that we can judge contradictions. Husserl’s later view holds that countersense cannot be explicitly judged, and distinguishes the laws of contradiction from the laws of truth. While this solves the problems with the early view, it contains a tension that points towards idealism.

Lydia Patton, Virginia Tech


James Pearson, Bridgewater State University

Objectivity Socialized

This paper contrasts Rudolf Carnap’s and W.V. Quine’s responses to the challenge that their positions distort the social nature of inquiry. In Quine’s case, the challenge is the heart of Donald Davidson’s insistence that naturalized epistemology fails to capture the objectivity of thought. In Carnap’s, the challenge may be detected in Charles Morris’s call for semiotic rather than syntax to ground scientific philosophy. Drawing it out from Morris’s proposal requires considering a neglected influence on this neglected philosopher: his advisor George Herbert Mead’s social theory of mind. Meeting the challenge requires scientific philosophers to acknowledge as ineliminable the role others play in their investigations.

Katarina Perovic, University of Iowa

Metaphysics and its Pseudo-problems in Early Analytic Philosophy

Periods of great theoretical flourish in metaphysics have been followed by periods of self-reflection and doubt concerning both the subject-matter of metaphysics as well as its method of inquiry. I believe that contemporary metaphysics is currently in this self-reflective phase, that there are good reasons why we are here, and that indeed we ought to re-examine the way we do metaphysics today (for the sake of metaphysics and philosophy more broadly). In this paper, I engage in bottom-up analysis of certain metaphysical problems that I take to be pseudo-problems distinguishing, throughout, between three main senses of understanding a metaphysical/ philosophical “pseudo-problem”.

Erich Reck, University of California, Riverside

The Logic in Frege’s Logicism

It is widely known that Frege pursued a logicist project. But how exactly did he conceive of “logic” in this context? This is an urgent question because his conception was clearly different both from earlier ones, from Kant back to Aristotle, and from later ones, e.g., Wittgenstein’s or Tarski’s. I will approach this question from two angles: (a) by tracing the development of Frege’s logicism, from Begriffsschrift to his last writings, which involves several noteworthy shifts in the logical framework he worked with; and (b) by comparing his views on logic to those of some precursors and contemporaries, such as Lotze, Boole, Bolzano, Dedekind, and Peirce. A core question will be why Frege thought a theory of classes, or later of value-ranges, might legitimately be seen as a part of “logic”, despite the fact that it brings with it commitments about the existence of logical objects.

Jamie Shaw, University of Western Ontario

The Janus-faced Nature of Popper’s Falsificationism

The single most important feature of Popper’s views of falsification is that scientists must ‘take refutations seriously.’ This involves assuming that all theories have pre-defined refutations which would both be instantaneous, in the sense that we abandon a theory once its falsified, and decisive, in the sense that that theory will always be falsified once falsified (Popper 1935; 1963). This hallmark of Popper’s view allows him to distinguish falsificationism from conventionalism (specifically Duhem’s and Dingler’s) which deny that any refutation can unequivocally cause us to reject a theory since we can always modify auxiliary hypotheses to salvage the theory. Popper also explicitly accepts that observation statements are also intersubjectively testable. Therefore, of any purported refutation we have a choice to either accept it as a genuine refutation and abandon the theory, or scrutinize the refutation to see if it is a valid refutation. However, if one analyzes Popper’s attitude toward

Method, Science, and Mathematics: Neo-Kantianism and Analytic Philosophy

Volume 6.3 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open access.

This issue is a special volume edited by Scott Edgar and Lydia Patton dedicated to Neo-Kantianism and Analytic Philosophy. The volume contains eleven substantial articles, as well as an introductory essay. Here is an abstract:

At its core, analytic philosophy concerns urgent questions about philosophy’s relation to the formal and empirical sciences, questions about philosophy’s relation to psychology and the social sciences, and ultimately questions about philosophy’s place in a broader cultural landscape. This picture of analytic philosophy shapes this collection’s focus on the history of the philosophy of mathematics, physics, and psychology. The following essays uncover, reflect on, and exemplify modes of philosophy that are engaged with these allied disciplines. They make the case that, to the extent that analytic philosophers are still concerned with philosophy’s ties to these disciplines, we would do well to pay attention to neo-Kantian views on those ties.

Table of contents

  1. Scott Edgar: Volume Introduction
  2. Gary Hatfield: Helmholtz and Philosophy: Science, Perception, and Metaphysics, with Variations on Some Fichtean Themes
  3. Liesbet De Kock: Historicizing Hermann von Helmholtz’s Psychology of Differentiation
  4. R. Brian Tracz: Helmholtz on Perceptual Properties
  5. Matthias Neuber: Perception and Coincidence in Helmholtz’s Theory of Measurement
  6. Paola Cantù: The Epistemological Question of the Applicability of Mathematics
  7. Francesca Biagioli: Articulating Space in Terms of Transformation Groups: Helmholtz and Cassirer
  8. Samantha Matherne: Cassirer’s Psychology of Relations: From the Psychology of Mathematics and Natural Science to the Psychology of Culture
  9. Janet Folina: After Non-Euclidean Geometry: Intuition, Truth and the Autonomy of Mathematics
  10. Georg Schiemer: Cassirer and the Structural Turn in Modern Geometry
  11. Thomas Ryckman: Cassirer and Dirac on the Symbolic Method in Quantum Mechanics: A Confluence of Opposites
  12. Erik C. Banks: Grete Hermann as Neo-Kantian Philosopher of Space and Time Representation

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

Sidgwick’s Legacy? Russell and Moore on Meaning and Philosophical Inquiry

Volume 6.1 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) is now online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Sébastien Gandon entitled, “Sidgwick’s Legacy? Russell and Moore on Meaning and Philosophical Inquiry”. Here is an abstract:

James Levine has recently argued (1998, 2009, 2016) that there is a tension between Russell’s Moorean semantical framework and Russell’s Peano-inspired analytical practice. According to Levine, this discrepancy runs deep in Russell’s thought from 1900 to 1918, and underlies many of the doctrinal changes occurring during this period. In this paper, I suggest that, contrary to what Levine claims, there is no incompatibility between Moore’s theory of meaning and the idea of informative conceptual analysis. I show this by relating Moore’s view of meaning to his Sidgwick-inspired criticism of the so-called naturalistic fallacy. I maintain that Moore’s semantical framework has a methodological intent: following Sidgwick, Moore wants to block any attempt to justify ethical principles through setting ad hoc conditions on the meaning of the terms involved. Thus, far from grounding philosophical knowledge on subjective intuitions, as Levine suggests, Moore’s framework would provide us with the means to make room for a discursive and dialectic conception of philosophical inquiry.

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

SSHAP 2018 (Hamilton): Call for Abstracts/Papers

The seventh annual conference of the Society for the Study of the History of Analytical Philosophy will be held at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, 19-21 June 2018. It is locally organised by Sandra Lapointe with the assistance of Sean Dudley and sponsored by the Philosophy Department at McMaster University.

Invited Speakers:

This year’s meeting is being held in conjunction with the Bertrand Russell Society whose conference (22-24 June 2018) convenes immediately after the SSHAP meeting. The organizers hope that SSHAP conferees will also want to attend the BRS meeting and vice versa. There are many areas of shared interest and possibilities for fruitful exchange. Information about the BRS meeting and its call for papers can be found here.

We do ask that those who wish to submit papers for both meetings not submit the very same paper.

SSHAP – Call for Abstracts or Papers

The Society for Study of the History of Analytical Philosophy is an international organization aimed at promoting discussion in all areas of scholarship concerning the development of philosophical logic, philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, ethics and metaethics, the philosophy of science, and epistemology. It welcomes scholars interested in the many ways in which the disciplines were influenced by thinkers such as Bolzano, Brentano and his school, Husserl, Frege, Russell, the Vienna Circle, Wittgenstein, Tarski, Quine and the Polish school, for instance, but also seeks to promote work engaging with lesser know figures and trends.

SSHAP invites submissions for its 2018 annual conference. Paper submissions in all areas of the history of analytic philosophy are welcome.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 15, 2018.

In the past, some of the papers presented at the annual the conference were published in the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy. (

Submission Instructions

Authors are requested to submit their long abstract electronically according to the following guidelines:

  1. Long abstracts (500-1000 words) or full papers (up to 4000 words) should be prepared for blind refereeing,
  2. put into PDF file format, and
  3. sent as an email attachment to the address given below.
  4. The subject line of the submission email should include the key-phrase “SSHAP submission”, and
  5. the body text of the email message should constitute a cover page for the submission by including i) return email address, ii) author’s name, iii) affiliation, iv) paper title, and v) short abstract (50-100 words) and vi) academic rank.

Time allowed for presentation is 60 minutes (including discussion).

Electronic submissions and queries should be sent to:

For more information, please visit our website:

Semantic Non-factualism in Kripke’s Wittgenstein

Volume 5.9 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online, with full open-access.

It features an article entitled “Semantic Non-factualism in Kripke’s Wittgenstein” by Daniel Boyd. Here is an abstract:

Kripke’s Wittgenstein is standardly understood as a non-factualist about meaning ascription. Non-factualism about meaning ascription is the idea that sentences like “Joe means addition by ‘plus’” are not used to state facts about the world. Byrne and Kusch have argued that Kripke’s Wittgenstein is not a non-factualist about meaning ascription. They are aware that their interpretation is non-standard, but cite arguments from Boghossian and Wright to support their view. Boghossian argues that non-factualism about meaning ascription is incompatible with a deflationary theory of truth. Wright argues that non-factualism about meaning ascription is incoherent. To support the standard interpretation, I’ll respond to each argument in turn. To the degree that my responses are successful, Byrne and Kusch have an unmotivated interpretation of Kripke’s Wittgenstein. Wilson provides a factualist interpretation that is not based on Boghossian and Wright’s arguments. Miller argues for a non-factualist interpretation against Wilson, but I’ll show that Miller’s interpretation faces a dilemma. Miller’s argument cannot be maintained if a coherent interpretation of the skeptical solution is to be provided. I’ll show how this dilemma can be avoided and provide an independent argument against Wilson so that a non-factualist interpretation of the skeptical solution can be maintained.

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

Erik Banks Memorial Scholarship

From Ava Chamberlain, chair of the Department of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics at Wayne State University:

Erik Banks, the author most recently of The Realistic Empiricism of Mach, James, and Russell: Neutral Monism, Reconceived, published by Cambridge University Press (2014), died on 18 August 2017, following a massive hemorrhagic stroke. He was 47 years old. The family is establishing a student scholarship in Erik’s memory. At this time, donations should be made out to the Wright State University Foundation, with a note that the contribution should be directed to the Philosophy Program Fund in memory of Erik Banks. These donations may be sent to the attention of Sara Woodhull, WSU Foundation, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Dayton, Ohio 45435.

The Logical Significance of Assertion: Frege on the Essence of Logic

Volume 5.8 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Walter Pedriali entitled, “The Logical Significance of Assertion: Frege on the Essence of Logic”. Here is an abstract:

Assertion plays a crucial dual role in Frege’s conception of logic, a formal and a transcendental one. A recurrent complaint is that Frege’s inclusion of the judgement-stroke (the formal counterpart of assertion) in the Begriffsschrift is either in tension with his anti-psychologism or wholly superfluous. Assertion, the objection goes, is at best of merely psychological significance. In this paper, I defend Frege against the objection by giving reasons for recognising the central logical significance of assertion in both its formal and its transcendental role.

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