On the origins of the contemporary notion of propositional content: anti-psychologism in nineteenth-century psychology and G.E. Moore’s early theory of judgment

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I argue that the familiar picture of the rise of analytic philosophy through the early work of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell is incomplete and to some degree erroneous. Archival evidence suggests that a considerable influence on Moore, especially evident in his 1899 paper ‘The nature of judgment,’ comes from the literature in nineteenth-century empirical psychology rather than nineteenth-century neo-Hegelianism, as is widely believed. I argue that the conceptual influences of Moore’s paper are more likely to have had their source in the work of two of Moore’s teachers, G. F. Stout and James Ward. What may be called an anti-psychologism about psychology characterizes the work of these and other psychologists of the period. I argue that the anti-psychologism that is the main aim of Moore’s early theory of judgment is an adaptation of this notion, which is significantly dissimilar from the notion defended by Bradley, traditionally thought to have been a key influence on Moore.Keywords: G. E. Moore; Bertrand Russell; Propositions; Anti-psychologism; Early analytic philosophy; G. F. Stout.
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Principia Ethica.McGilvary, Evander Bradley

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