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Rule-following, normativity & objectivity

Cross, J; (2013) Rule-following, normativity & objectivity. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This essay offers a close analysis and critique of the complex theoretical arguments in John McDowell’s 1984 paper, Wittgenstein on Following a Rule, a seminal discussion of rule-following, normativity and objectivity that still stands in need of a thorough, clear analysis on its own terms. My aim is to clarify and assess the arguments McDowell makes against the views expressed by Crispin Wright in Wittgenstein on the Foundations of Mathematics and Saul Kripke in Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. I also offer analysis of relevant parts of these works as necessary. All three texts juxtapose attempts to expound the views of the historical Wittgenstein with attempts to argue for them on his behalf, but the philosophical issues under debate are entirely separated from that interpretive context in my discussion as they merit analysis in their own right. For simplicity I treat the views each commentator attributes to Wittgenstein as if they were the commentator’s own. Chapter 1 outlines and analyses the basic premises, terminology and some central arguments of the debate, focusing on analysis of the idea that understanding the meaning of an expression involves a kind of contract. Chapter 2 focuses on Wright’s account of the ‘contract’ picture and McDowell’s attempts to criticise it. In chapter 3 I analyse a notion of understanding that McDowell wants to reject, and which he believes is the source of Kripke’s celebrated ‘sceptical paradox’. The beginning of chapter 4 brings together all the lessons learned in WFR about rule-following, normativity and objectivity in order to suggest requirements on a plausible alternative contractual account of meaning and understanding. In §4.3 I sketch an account that McDowell might want to adopt, and in §4.4 I test it out on the problems identified.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Rule-following, normativity & objectivity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1382243
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