Tag Archives: language

Wittgenstein’s Reductio / Review of work on Necessity

Volume 10.3 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access:


It features an article by Gilad Nir, entitled “Wittgenstein’s Reductio.” Here is the abstract:

By means of a reductio argument, Wittgenstein’s Tractatus calls into question the very idea that we can represent logical form. My paper addresses three interrelated questions: first, what conception of logical form is at issue in this argument? Second, whose conception of logic is this argument intended to undermine? And third, what could count as an adequate response to it? I show that the argument construes logical form as the universal, underlying correlation of any representation and the reality it represents. I further show that the argument seeks to undermine core commitments of Frege’s and Russell’s. But the reductio, as I read it, is not intended to establish the falsity of any of their specific assumptions. Rather, its aim is to make manifest the indeterminacies that underlie the language in which these assumptions are framed, and establish the need for a transformation of that language. So understood, Wittgenstein’s argument exemplifies his idea that philosophy is not a theory, but an activity of elucidation. The interpretation I propose bears on one of the central debates in the literature, namely how we should understand Wittgenstein’s contention that his elucidations succeed despite being nonsensical.

The volume also contains a review of Sanford Shieh, Necessity Lost (Oxford University Press, 2019), written by Roberta Ballarin.

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

Kripke’s Wittgenstein and Semantic Factualism

Volume 9.3 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access:


It features an article by Miloš Šumonja, called “Kripke’s Wittgenstein and Semantic Factualism.” Here is the abstract:

Recently, two new portrayals of Kripke’s Wittgenstein (KW) have emerged. Both understand KW as targeting the Tractarian picture of semantic fact as a speaker’s mental representation of the truth-conditions of the sentences he uses. According to the factualist interpretation, KW holds that meaning ascriptions are legitimate descriptions because semantic facts are not entities that explain people’s linguistic behavior. The second, Alex Miller’s non-standard non-factualist interpretation, sees KW as claiming that because no fact can explain our linguistic behavior, meaning ascriptions express a speaker’s attitudes towards his interlocutors rather than stating what they mean. This paper advances the minimal factualist interpretation by elaborating two points: that Miller’s reading of the skeptical argument contradicts semantic non-factualism; and that KW’s view of meaning is based on a primitivist rendition of the skeptic’s insight that nothing justifies our use of language, which allows him to assert that semantic facts exist simply because we ordinarily say so.

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

Donald Davidson: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Volume 7.2 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open access.

This volume is a special issue: Donald Davidson: Looking back, Looking forward, edited by Claudine Verheggen. The volume contains five substantial articles, as well as an introductory essay. Here is an abstract:

The papers collected in this issue were solicited to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Donald Davidson’s birth. Four of them discuss the implications of Davidson’s views—in particular, his later views on triangulation—for questions that are still very much at the centre of current debates. These are, first, the question whether Saul Kripke’s doubts about meaning and rule-following can be answered without making concessions to the sceptic or to the quietist; second, the question whether a way can be found to answer Davidson’s own doubts about the continuity of non-propositional thought and language; third, the question whether normative properties can be at once causal and prescriptive; fourth, the question whether folk psychological explanations can be at once illuminating and autonomous. The fifth paper reexamines Davidson’s take on the principle of compositionality, which always was at the centre of his theorizing about language.

Table of contents

  1. Claudine Verheggen: Volume Introduction
  2. Olivia Sultanescu and Claudine Verheggen: Davidson’s Answer to Kripke’s Sceptic
  3. Dorit Bar-On: Crude Meaning, Brute Thought (or: What Are They Thinking?!)
  4. Robert Myers: Davidson’s Meta-Normative Naturalism
  5. Karsten R. Stueber: Davidson, Reasons, and Causes: A Plea for a Little Bit More Empathy
  6. Peter Pagin: Compositionality in Davidson’s Early Work

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