Tag Archives: russell

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:

https://jhaponline.org/jhap/issue/view/471

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!

An Argument for Completely General Facts / Review of work on Frege

Volume 9.7 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access:

https://jhaponline.org/jhap/issue/view/447

It features an article by Landon D.C. Elkind, entitled, “An Argument for Completely General Facts: Generalized Molecular Formulas in Logical Atomism.” Here is the abstract:

In his 1918 logical atomism lectures, Russell argued that there are no molecular facts. But he posed a problem for anyone wanting to avoid molecular facts: we need truth-makers for generalizations of molecular formulas, but such truth-makers seem to be both unavoidable and to have an abominably molecular character. Call this the problem of generalized molecular formulas. I clarify the problem here by distinguishing two kinds of generalized molecular formula: incompletely generalized molecular formulas and completely generalized molecular formulas. I next argue that, if empty worlds are logically possible, then the model-theoretic and truth-functional considerations that are usually given address the problem posed by the first kind of formula, but not the problem posed by the second kind. I then show that Russell’s commitments in 1918 provide an answer to the problem of completely generalized molecular formulas: some truth-makers will be non-atomic facts that have no constituents. This shows that the neo-logical atomist goal of defending the principle of atomicity—the principle that only atomic facts are truth-makers—is not realizable.

The volume also contains a review of Gottfried Gabriel & Sven Schlotter, Frege und die kontinentalen Ursprünge der analytischen Philosophie (mentis, 2017), written by Günther Eder.

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

Transfinite Number in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus / Review of work on Ramsey

Volume 9.2 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by James Connelly entitled, “Transfinite Number in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus”. Here is the abstract:

In his highly perceptive, if underappreciated introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, Russell identifies a “lacuna” within Wittgenstein’s theory of number, relating specifically to the topic of transfinite number. The goal of this paper is two-fold. The first is to show that Russell’s concerns cannot be dismissed on the grounds that they are external to the Tractarian project, deriving, perhaps, from logicist ambitions harbored by Russell but not shared by Wittgenstein. The extensibility of Wittgenstein’s theory of number to the case of transfinite cardinalities is, I shall argue, a desideratum generated by concerns intrinsic, and internal to Wittgenstein’s logical and semantic framework. Second, I aim to show that Wittgenstein’s theory of number as espoused in the Tractatus is consistent with Russell’s assessment, in that Wittgenstein meant to leave open the possibility that transfinite numbers could be generated within his system, but did not show explicitly how to construct them. To that end, I show how one could construct a transfinite number line using ingredients inherent in Wittgenstein’s system, and in accordance with his more general theories of number and of operations.

The volume also contains a review of Cheryl Misak, Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers (Oxford University Press, 2020), written by Matthew Simpson.

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

Solving the Conjunction Problem of Russell’s Principles of Mathematics / Review of On the Genealogy of Universals

Volume 8.8 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Gregory Landini entitled, “Solving the Conjunction Problem of Russell’s Principles of Mathematics”. Here is an abstract:

The quantification theory of propositions in Russell’s Principles of Mathematics has been the subject of an intensive study and in reconstruction has been found to be complete with respect to analogs of the truths of modern quantification theory. A difficulty arises in the reconstruction, however, because it presents universally quantified exportations of five of Russell’s axioms. This paper investigates whether a formal system can be found that is more faithful to Russell’s original prose. Russell offers axioms that are universally quantified implications that have antecedent clauses that are conjunctions. The presence of conjunctions as antecedent clauses seems to doom the theory from the onset, it will be found that there is no way to prove conjunctions so that, after universal instantiation, one can detach the needed antecedent clauses. Amalgamating two of Russell’s axioms, this paper overcomes the difficulty.

The volume also contains a review of Fraser MacBride, On the Genealogy of Universals: The Metaphysical Origins of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), written by Landon D. C. Elkind.

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!

Sellars’s Argument for an Ontology of Absolute Processes / Review of Work of Russell

Volume 7.1 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by David Landy entitled “Sellars’s Argument for an Ontology of Absolute Processes”. Here is an abstract:

Scholars have rejected Wilfrid Sellars’s argument for an ontology of absolute processes on the grounds that it relies on a dubious and dogmatic appeal to the homogeneity of color. Borrowing from Rosenthal’s recent defense, but ultimate rejection of homogeneity, I defend this claim on Sellarsian/Kantian transcendental grounds, and reconstruct the remainder of his argument. I argue that Sellars has good reason to suppose that homogeneity is a necessary condition of any possible experience, including indirect experience of theoretical-explanatory posits, and therefore good reason to hold that Reductive Materialism, as he conceives it, is an untenable account of color. The remainder of his argument aims to answer the question of what the metaphysical relation is between the state of an experiencing subject that we take color to be and the colorless microphysical particles that we take to constitute that subject. After rejecting Substance Dualism, Epiphenomenalism, and Wholistic or Emergent Materialism as explanatorily inadequate, Sellars proposes that both color-states and micro-physical particles should be understood as manifestations of an underlying ontology on absolute processes.

The volume also contains a review of Samuel Lebens, Bertrand Russell and the Nature of Propositions: A History and Defence of the Multiple Relation Theory of Judgement (New York: Routledge, 2017), written by Rosalind Carey.

On the Curious Calculi of Wittgenstein and Spencer Brown

Volume 6.10 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) has now been published online, with full open-access.

It features an article by Gregory Landini entitled “On the Curious Calculi of Wittgenstein and Spencer Brown”. Here is an abstract:

In his Tractatus, Wittgenstein sets out what he calls his N-operator notation which can be used to calculate whether an expression is a tautology. In his Laws of Form, George Spencer Brown offers what he calls a “primary algebra” for such calculation. Both systems are perplexing. But comparing two blurry images can reduce noise, producing a focus. This paper reveals that Spencer Brown independently rediscovered the quantifier-free part of the N-operator calculus. The comparison sheds a flood light on each and from the letters of correspondence we shall find that Russell, as one might have surmised, was a catalyst for both.

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

A Reconstruction of Russell’s Gray’s Elegy Argument

Volume 6.2 of The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) is now online, with full open access.

It features an article by Max Rosenkrantz entitled, “A Reconstruction of Russell’s Gray’s Elegy Argument”. Here is an abstract:

This paper presents a detailed exegesis of Russell’s “Gray’s Elegy Argument” (GEA). It holds that the GEA mounts a successful attack on Frege—a thesis that has been widely controverted in the literature. The point of departure for my interpretation is Russell’s charge that it is impossible to speak about Sinne, or “meanings” as Russell calls them. I argue that the charge concerns the construction of an “ideal language.” For Russell, an ideal language is an artificial schema designed to represent the truth-makers for sentences occurring in natural language. Its signs stand for the entities that are constituents of those truth-makers. Russell’s charge can thus be expressed more clearly and completely as follows: an ideal language designed to express Frege’s ontology requires signs for meanings (Sinne); however, the signs introduced for that purpose cannot be correlated with the entities they are supposed to represent. Thus, the requirement cannot be met.

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

Russell and Bradley: Revisiting the Creation Narrative of Analytic Philosophy

Volume 5.7 of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy is now online, with full open access.

It features an article by Samuel Lebens entitled, “Russell and Bradley: Revisiting the Creation Narrative of Analytic Philosophy”. Here is an abstract:

According to Stewart Candlish, Russell and Moore had misunderstood F. H. Bradley’s monism. According to Jonathan Schaffer, they had misunderstood monism more generally. A key thread of the creation narrative of analytic philosophy, according to which Russell and Moore successfully undermined monism to give rise to a new movement is, therefore, in doubt. In this paper, I defend the standard narrative against those who seek to revise it.

The issue also features a review of Greg Frost-Arnold’s Carnap, Tarski and Quine at Harvard: Conversations on Logic, Mathematics and Science, written by Henri Wagner.

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