•  37
    Representation and Reality in Wittgenstein's “Tractatus.”
    Philosophical Review 126 (4): 532-535. 2017.
  •  36
    This historical study investigates Ludwig Wittgenstein's early philosophy of logic and language, as it is presented in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus . The study makes a case for the Tractatus as an insightful critique of the philosophies of Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege-the Founding Fathers of analytic philosophy
  •  148
    The Early Wittgenstein on Logical Assertion
    Philosophical Topics 25 (2): 121-144. 1997.
    The paper argues that Wittgenstein's criticisms of Frege and Russell's assertion sign are, a bottom, criticisms of a common flaw in these philosophers' early conceptions of the proposition. Each philosopher offers an account of the proposition that *seems* to suggest that a sentence cannot get so far as to say something without the addition of the assertion sign. This leads to the mistaken idea that there is a coherent notion of "logical assertion.".
  •  2238
    Logical atomism in Russell and Wittgenstein
    In Marie McGinn & Oskari Kuusela (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein, Oxford University Press. 2011.
    An essay examining logical atomism as it arises in Russell and the early Wittgenstein.
  •  812
    Wittgenstein on the substance of the world
    European Journal of Philosophy 12 (1). 2004.
    The *Tractatus* contains an argument that there are simple, necessarily existent objects, which, being simple, are suited to be the referents of the names occuring in the final analysis of propositions. The argument is perplexing in its own right, but also for its invocation of the notion of "substance". I argue that if one locates Wittgenstein's conception of substance in the Kantian tradition to which his talk of "substance" alludes, what emerges is an argument that is very nearly--but not qui…Read more
  •  700
    Russell on substitutivity and the abandonment of propositions
    Philosophical Review 120 (2): 151-205. 2011.
    The paper argues that philosophers commonly misidentify the substitutivity principle involved in Russell’s puzzle about substitutivity in “On Denoting”. This matters because when that principle is properly identified the puzzle becomes considerably sharper and more interesting than it is often taken to be. This article describes both the puzzle itself and Russell's solution to it, which involves resources beyond the theory of descriptions. It then explores the epistemological and metaphysical co…Read more
  •  1014
    Kant's Legal Metaphor and the Nature of a Deduction
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 41 (2): 209-229. 2003.
    This essay partly builds on and partly criticizes a striking idea of Dieter Henrich. Henrich argues that Kant's distinction in the first Critique between the question of fact (quid facti) and the question of law (quid juris) provides clues to the argumentative structure of a philosophical "Deduction". Henrich suggests that the unity of apperception plays a role analogous to a legal factum. By contrast, I argue, first, that the question of fact in the first Critique is settled by the Metaphysical…Read more
  •  1168
    The new Wittgenstein: A critique
    European Journal of Philosophy 9 (3). 2001.
    A critique of Cora Diamond's influential approach to reading Wittgenstein's Tractatus. According to Diamond, the Tractatus contains no substantive philosophical theses, but is rather merely an especially subtle and sophisticated exercise in the unmasking of nonsense. I argue that no remotely convincing case for this interpretive thesis has yet been made--either by Diamond herself, or by the numerous defenders of this so-called "resolute" reading (so-called by those who wish to style themselves a…Read more
  •  419
    Logical syntax in the tractatus
    In Richard Gaskin (ed.), Grammar in Early Twentieth-Century Philosophy, Routledge. pp. 163. 2001.
    An essay on Wittgenstein's conception of nonsense and its relation to his idea that "logic must take care of itself". I explain how Wittgenstein's theory of symbolism is supposed to resolve Russell's paradox, and I offer an alternative to Cora Diamond's influential account of Wittgenstein's diagnosis of the error in the so-called "natural view" of nonsense.
  •  2928
    What is Frege's "Concept horse Problem" ?
    In Michael Potter and Peter Sullivan (ed.), Wittgenstein's Tractatus: History and Interpretation, Oxford University Press. pp. 76-96. 2013.
    I argue that Frege's so-called "concept 'horse' problem" is not one problem but many. When these different sub-problems are distinguished, some emerge as more tractable than others. I argue that, contrary to a widespread scholarly assumption originating with Peter Geach, there is scant evidence that Frege engaged with the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions in writings available to Wittgenstein. In consequence, Geach is mistaken in his claim that in the Trac…Read more
  •  118
    Russell’s reasons for logicism
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (2): 267-292. 2006.
    What is at stake philosophically for Russell in espousing logicism? I argue that Russell's aims are chiefly epistemological and mathematical in nature. Russell develops logicism in order to give an account of the nature of mathematics and of mathematical knowledge that is compatible with what he takes to be the uncontroversial status of this science as true, certain and exact. I argue for this view against the view of Peter Hylton, according to which Russell uses logicism to defend the unconditi…Read more
  •  1778
    Kant on the Ontological Argument
    Noûs 49 (1): 1-27. 2015.
    The article examines Kant's various criticisms of the broadly Cartesian ontological argument as they are developed in the Critique of Pure Reason. It is argued that each of these criticisms is effective against its intended target, and that these targets include—in addition to Descartes himself—Leibniz, Wolff, and Baumgarten. It is argued that Kant's most famous criticism—the charge that being is not a real predicate—is directed exclusively against Leibniz. Kant's argument for this thesis—the ar…Read more
  •  999
    In the Tractatus Wittgenstein criticizes Frege and Russell's view that laws of inference (Schlussgesetze) "justify" logical inferences. What lies behind this criticism, I argue, is an attack on Frege and Russell's conceptions of logical entailment. In passing, I examine Russell's dispute with Bradley on the question whether all relations are "internal".
  •  657
    Russellian Acquaintance Revisited
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4): 779-811. 2014.
    It is sometimes claimed that in his 1912 work, "The Problems of Philosophy" (POP), and possibly as early as “on Denoting”, Russell conceives of the mind's acquaintance with sense-data as providing an indubitable or certain foundation for empirical knowledge. However, although he does say things suggestive of this view in certain of his 1914 works, Russell also makes remarks in POP that conflict with any such broadly "Cartesian" interpretation of this work. This paper attempts to resolve this ap…Read more
  •  983
    Kant’s Conception of Analytic Judgment
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (3). 2005.
    In the 'Critique of Pure Reason' Kant appears to characterize analytic judgments in four distinct ways: once in terms of “containment,” a second time in terms of “identity,” a third time in terms of the explicative–ampliative contrast, and a fourth time in terms of the notion of “cognizability in accordance with the principle of contradiction.” The paper asks: Which of these characterizations—or apparent characterizations—best captures Kant’s conception of analyticity in the first Critique? It s…Read more
  •  96
    Soames on the Metaphysics and Epistemology of Moore and Russell
    Philosophical Studies 129 (3): 627-635. 2006.
    A critical discussion of selected chapters of the first volume of Scott Soames’s Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century. It is argued that this volume falls short of the minimal standards of scholarship appropriate to a work that advertises itself as a history, and, further, that Soames’s frequent heuristic simplifications and distortions, since they are only sporadically identified as such, are more likely confuse than to enlighten the student. These points are illustrated by reference…Read more
  •  166
    Kant on the Cosmological Argument
    Philosophers' Imprint 14 1-21. 2014.
    In the first Critique Kant levels two main charges against the cosmological argument. First, it commits the fallacy of ignoratio elenchi. Second, in two rather different ways, it presupposes the ontological argument. Commentators have struggled to find merit in either of these charges. The paper argues that they can nonetheless be shown to have some merit, so long as one takes care to correctly identify the version of the cosmological argument that Kant means to be attacking. That turns out to b…Read more
  •  204
    Wittgenstein's logical atomism
    Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (65): 374-376. 2004.
    An article explicating Wittgenstein's logical atomism and surveying the relevant secondary literature.
  •  551
    The paper critically scrutinizes the widespread idea that Russell subscribes to a "Universalist Conception of Logic." Various glosses on this somewhat under-explained slogan are considered, and their fit with Russell's texts and logical practice examined. The results of this investigation are, for the most part, unfavorable to the Universalist interpretation.
  •  1461
    Kant's first paralogism
    Philosophical Review 119 (4). 2010.
    In the part of the first Critique known as “The Paralogisms of Pure Reason” Kant seeks to explain how even the most acute metaphysicians could have arrived, through speculation, at the ruefully dogmatic conclusion that the self (understood as the subject of thoughts or "thinking I") is a substance. His diagnosis has two components: first, the positing of the phenomenon of “Transcendental Illusion”—an illusion, modelled on but distinct from, optical illusion--that predisposes human beings to acce…Read more