A Critique of Saul Kripke's "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language"

Dissertation, Graduate Center, City University of New York (2008)
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In Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke presents a controversial skeptical argument, which he attributes to Wittgenstein’s interlocutor in the Philosophical Investigations [PI]. The argument purports to show that there are no facts that correspond to what we mean by our words. Kripke maintains, moreover, that the conclusion of Wittgenstein’s so-called private language argument is a corollary of results Wittgenstein establishes in §§137-202 of PI concerning the topic of following-a-rule, and not the conclusion of an independently developed argument in §§243ff of PI, as most commentators take it to be. In this work, I assess Kripke’s skeptical argument both in its own right, and as an interpretation of the rule-following sections of PI. In its own right, I try to show that it is critically flawed. However, as an interpretation of the rule-following sections of PI, I try to show that it is essentially correct. I do this by showing that Kripke’s interpretation squares with and supports the meta-philosophical framework developed by Wittgenstein in §§107-136 of PI, which immediately precedes his remarks on following-a-rule. (Oct 16, 2008. Committee: Paul Horwich, Galen Strawson, Stephen Neale, Michael Levin)

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Chrysoula Gitsoulis
City College of New York (CUNY)


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