Bertrand Russell’s works on logic, despite his reputation as a founder of mathematical logic, appear unnecessarily metaphysical and even naïve to contemporary logicians and philosophers. He offered several accounts of logic whilst pursuing the goal of logicism, the view of mathematics as reducible to logic. In their attempts to explain why those accounts look naïve nowadays, many commentators have sought one or another simple philosophical doctrine which can characterise his conception of logic. Instead of thus assuming a coherent theme underlying his works on logic, I propose to understand them as a shift from a conception of logic towards another. By looking into books, papers and manuscripts which he wrote during the period from 1898 to 1918, I argue that he inherited an antique, metaphysical conception of logic from his idealist predecessors and, through his attempts to replace some idealistic features of the conception with his realist alternatives, he became more sympathetic to—though never fully convinced of—a linguistic conception of logic, which was proposed by some of his contemporary logicians and has been widely accepted since then.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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