•  28
    Representation and Reality in Wittgenstein's “Tractatus.”
    Philosophical Review 126 (4): 532-535. 2017.
  •  34
    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
  •  382
    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.
  •  2426
    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 separate sub-problems are distinguished, some are revealed to be more tractable than others. I further argue that there is, contrary to a widespread scholarly assumption originating with Peter Geach, little evidence that Frege was concerned with the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions in writings available to Wittgenstein. In consequence, Geach is mistaken in thin…Read more
  •  114
    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
  •  1510
    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
  •  919
    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".
  •  511
    Russellian Acquaintance Revisited
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4): 779-811. 2014.
    philosophers sometimes claim that in his 1912 work, The Problems of Philosophy (hereafter cited as POP), and possibly as early as “on Denoting” (1905), Russell conceives of acquaintance with sense-data as providing an indubitable or certain foundation for empirical knowledge.1 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 Cartesian interpretation of this work.2 He says, for example, that all our…Read more
  •  877
    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 sug…Read more
  •  93
    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
  •  145
    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
  •  197
    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.
  •  481
    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.
  •  1099
    Kant's first paralogism
    Philosophical Review 119 (4). 2010.
    In “The Paralogisms of Pure Reason” Kant seeks to explain how rationalist philosophers could have arrived at the dogmatic conclusion that the self is a substance. His diagnosis has two components: first, the positing of “Transcendental Illusion”—a pervasive intellectual illusion that predisposes us to accept as sound certain unsound arguments for substantive theses about the nature of the self; second, the identification of the relevant fallacy we commit when we succumb to this illusion. This pa…Read more
  •  144
    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.".
  •  1892
    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.
  •  701
    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
  •  634
    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
  •  895
    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
  •  967
    The new Wittgenstein: A critique
    European Journal of Philosophy 9 (3). 2001.
    An essay challenging Cora Diamond's influential approach to reading Wittgenstein's Tractatus. According to Diamond, the Tractatus contains no substantive philosophical theses, but is purely an exercise in the debunking of nonsense. I argue that a convincing case for this claim has not yet been made--either by Diamond herself, or by the numerous defenders of this so-called "resolute" reading. Having critically examined the arguments that have been offered in favor of the resolute reading, I go on…Read more