Ontology, epistemology, and private ostensive definition

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (1):137-147 (1996)
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People see five kinds of views in epistemology and ontology as hinging on there being words a person can learn only by private ostensive definitions, through direct acquaintance with his own sensations: skepticism about other minds, 2. skepticism about an external world, 3. foundationalism, 4. dualism, and 5. phenomenalism. People think Wittgenstein refuted these views by showing, they believe, no word is learnable only by private ostensive definition. I defend these five views from Wittgenstein’s attack.

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Irwin Goldstein
Davidson College


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