Wittgenstein and Rules

This page is about works that discuss the issue of rules and rule-following considerations in Wittgenstein studies.

Rudd, Anthony, 'Two Types of Externalism' Philosophical Quarterly, 1997, 47:189, 501-7.

Brief Discussion
This paper argues that Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations establish a form of externalism; but that this is very different from the form of externalism supposedly established by Putnam's Twin Earth
arguments. In particular, Wittgenstein's brand of externalism is incompatible with the metaphysical realism of 'Twin Earth' externalism. The paper notes Putnam's own gradual abandonment of Twin Earth
externalism in favour of a more Wittgensteinean position, and criticises G. McCullogh's attempt to combine the two forms of externalism.

Wright, Crispin, 'Kripke's Account of the Argument Against Private Language', The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 81, No. 12 (Dec., 1984), pp. 759-778.

Brief Discussion
This influential paper contains an acknowledgement by Wright that his book Wittgenstein on the Foundations of Mathematics is giving a misleading dominant impression about a specific relation between rule-following considerations and the private language argument. It also discusses critically a similar claim made by Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.

Cockburn, David, ‘Meaning, Rules and Conversation’, Language Sciences 26 (2004), pp. 105-123

Brief discussion
Wittgenstein writes: ‘To understand a sentence means to understand a language’. My question is: what is a language, and what is its importance to the idea of understanding what someone has said? Familiar ways of developing Wittgenstein’s ‘rule-following considerations’, along with the idea that the notion of a ‘correctness condition’ must be central to any account of meaning, do not throw light on the idea of a language. If we give central place to the idea that understanding a sentence involves grasping its logical relations with other sentences we must remember that it is the things that people say that stand in logical relations with each other, and that this is just one instance of the more general point that in a conversation what one person says may bear on what another says. The notion of a ‘conversation’ may vary in its temporal stretch. Those with whom I share a language are those with whose words what I say may be connected: connected in a way analogous to that in which the remarks in a conversation are connected.

Edwards, Jim, 'Following Rules, Grasping Concepts and feeling Pains' in European Journal of Philosophy, vol 1 no3, 1993, Basil Blacwell, pp. 268-284. ISBN 0966-8373

Legg, Catherine, "This is Simply What I Do". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research vol. 46, no. 1 (January 2003), pp. 58-80.

Wittgenstein's discussion of rule-following is widely regarded to have identified what Kripke called "the most radical and original sceptical problem that philosophy has seen to date". But does it? This paper examines the problem in the light of Charles Peirce's distinctive scientific hierarchy. Peirce identifies a phenomenological inquiry which is prior to both logic and metaphysics, whose role is to identify the most fundamental philosophical categories. His third category, particularly salient in this context, pertains to general predication. Rule-following scepticism, the paper suggests, results from running together two questions: "How is it that I can project rules?", and, "What is it for a given usage of a rule to be right?". In Peircean terms the former question, concerning the irreducibility of general predication (to singular reference), must be answered in phenomenology, while the latter, concerning the difference between true and false predication, is answered in logic. A failure to appreciate this distinction, it is argued, has led philosophers to focus exclusively on Wittgenstein's famous public account of rule-following rightness, thus overlooking a private, phenomenological dimension to Wittgenstein's remarks on following a rule which gives the lie to Kripke's reading of him as a sceptic.

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