Rule-following: conventionalism, scepticism and rationality
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The thesis argues, in lie main, for both a negative and positive agenda to Wittgenstein's rule-following remarks in both his Philosophical Investigations and Remarks on the foundations of Mathematics. The negative agenda is a sceptical agenda, different than as conceived by Kripke, that is destructive of a realist account of rules and contends that the correct application of a rule is not fully determined in an understanding of the rule. In addition to these consequences, this negative agenda opens Wittgenstein to Dummett's charge of radical conventionalism (a charge that also, but differently, applies to certain mid-period views and this is addressed in the first chapter). These negative consequences are left unresolved by Kripke's sceptical solution and, notably, are wrongly assessed by those that dissent from a sceptical reading (e.g., McDowell). The positive agenda builds on these negative considerations arguing that although there is no determination in the understanding of a rule of what will count as a correct application in so far unconsidered situations, we are still able to follow a rule correctly. This seems to involve an epistemic leap, from an underdetermined understanding to a determinate application, and, in respect of this appearance, involves what Wittgenstein calls following a rule "blindly" in an epistemic sense. Developing this view, of following a rule blindly, involves developing an account of an alternative rational response to rule instruction, one that need not involve a role for interpreting or inferring, but all the same allows for correctness in rule application in virtue of enabling agreement in rule application.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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