Is Russell's Conclusion about the Table Coherent?

In Peter Stone (ed.), Bertrand Russell’s Life and Legacy. Wilmington, Delaware, United States: Vernon Press. pp. 111 - 140 (2016)
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In his The Problems of Philosophy Bertrand Russell presents us with his famous argument for representative realism. After a clear and accessible analysis of sensations, qualities and the multiplicity of perceptions of the qualities of physical objects, Russell concludes with a bold statement: "The real table, if there is one, is not immediately known to us at all, but must be an inference from what is immediately known". My argument and analysis strongly suggests that the conclusion that Russell reaches in his argument is counterintuitive and incoherent. The philosophical statement that he presents on the table, in the opening pages of his famous Problems argument is fundamentally misconstrued, and as it stands, it is logically unacceptable.

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Alan Schwerin
Rice University (PhD)


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