About this topic
Summary To a first approximation a private language would be a language that only one person can understand, perhaps as a matter of necessity. Many philosophers have thought that there couldn't be such a language, that any meaningful language must be such that, at least in principle, more than one person could understand it. The main source for arguments against the possibility of private languages has been Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, although it remains a matter of controversy precisely what Wittgenstein aimed to show, what his arguments were, and whether those arguments were successful. More recent work has attempted to articulate in more detail than Wittgenstein arguments for and against the possibility of private languages. A further issue concerns what the consequences would be if it were demonstrated that private languages are not possible. Would it, for example, have consequences for the nature of experience, or its effability?
Key works Wittgenstein 2009 Includes Wittgenstein's seminal discussion of issues about the possibility of private languages. It is a matter of controversy precisely where the core discussion takes place. Kripke 1982 Very important presentation by Saul Kripke of a line of argument against the possibility of private languages based on Wittgenstein's discussion. Wright 1984 Important critical discussion of Kripke's argument and his interpretation of Wittgenstein. Baker & Hacker 1984 Another important critical discussion of Kripke. Ayer & Rhees 1954 Early discussion of issues about whether there could be private languages. Bar-On 1992 Useful discussion of the possibility of solitary, as opposed to private language, and of the relations between the two issues.
Introductions Candlish 2008 Craig 1997
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199 found
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  1. Phenomenal Concepts and Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument.Martina Prinz & François-Igor Pris - manuscript
  2. Kripke on private language.Paul Gregory - manuscript
  3. Kripke on private language.Author unknown - manuscript
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  4. Does Artificial Intelligence Use Private Language?Ryan Miller - forthcoming - In Proceedings of the International Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium 2021. Vienna: Lit Verlag.
    Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument holds that language requires rule-following, rule following requires the possibility of error, error is precluded in pure introspection, and inner mental life is known only by pure introspection, thus language cannot exist entirely within inner mental life. Fodor defends his Language of Thought program against the Private Language Argument with a dilemma: either privacy is so narrow that internal mental life can be known outside of introspection, or so broad that computer language serves as a counter-example. (...)
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  5. Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language at 40.Claudine Verheggen (ed.) - 2024 - Cambridge University Press.
    Saul Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language is one of the most celebrated and important books in philosophy of language and mind of the past forty years. It generated an avalanche of responses from the moment it was published and has revolutionized the way in which we think about meaning, intentionality, and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. It introduced a series of questions that had never been raised before concerning, most prominently, the normativity of meaning and the prospects for (...)
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  6. Dualism in Animal Psychology.Grace Andrus de Laguna & Joel Katzav - 2023 - In Joel Katzav, Dorothy Rogers & Krist Vaesen (eds.), Knowledge, Mind and Reality: An Introduction by Early Twentieth-Century American Women Philosophers. Cham: Springer. pp. 199-207.
    This chapter is Grace Andrus de Laguna's discussion of Margaret Floy Washburn’s The Animal Mind.
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  7. Public language, private language, and subsymbolic theories of mind.Gabe Dupre - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (2):394-412.
    Language has long been a problem‐case for subsymbolic theories of mind. The reason for this is obvious: Language seems essentially symbolic. However, recent work has developed a potential solution to this problem, arguing that linguistic symbols are public objects which augment a fundamentally subsymbolic mind, rather than components of cognitive symbol‐processing. I shall argue that this strategy cannot work, on the grounds that human language acquisition consists in projecting linguistic structure onto environmental entities, rather than extracting this structure from them.
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  8. The Availability of Jim Jarmusch’s Film-Philosophy: Wittgenstein, Derrida and Private Language in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.Kyle Barrowman - 2022 - Film-Philosophy 26 (3):352-374.
    To date, film scholars have found the films of Jim Jarmusch to be tantamount to works of postmodern philosophy. For as intriguing and productive as such interpretations of Jarmusch’s films have been, I submit that the postmodern framework occludes a crucial aspect of Jarmusch’s film-philosophy, namely, his investment in the ordinary. From this perspective, I intend to show the availability of Jarmusch’s films to Wittgensteinian interpretation. More specifically, I plan to situate Jarmusch’s arthouse action film Ghost Dog: The Way of (...)
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  9. The Private Language Argument: Another Footnote to Plato?Arnold Cusmariu - 2022 - Symposion: Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 9 (2):191-222.
    A valid and arguably sound private language argument is built using premises based on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations augmented by familiar analytic distinctions and concepts of logic. The private language problem and the solution presented here can be plausibly traced to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Both literatures missed the connection.
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  10. Kripke’s Wittgenstein.Ali Hossein Khani - 2022 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP).
    Saul Kripke, in his celebrated book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (1982), offers a novel reading of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s main remarks in his later works, especially in Philosophical Investigations (1953) and, to some extent, in Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics (1956). Kripke presents Wittgenstein as proposing a skeptical argument against a certain conception of meaning and linguistic understanding, as well as a skeptical solution to such a problem. Many philosophers have called this interpretation of Wittgenstein Kripke’s Wittgenstein or (...)
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  11. Rejecting the Given: Neurath and Carnap on Methodological Solipsism.Thomas Uebel - 2021 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
    This paper investigates how the doctrine of the epistemological given—long associated with empiricism and positivism and also informing Carnap’s first major work in 1928—was challenged and overcome by Neurath and Carnap in subsequent years. Particular attention is paid to the controversial issue of how precisely the dialectic between Neurath and Carnap played out: whether Neurath’s argumentation correctly engaged with Carnap’s actual positions, whether Carnap’s change of positions in turn fully engaged with Neurath’s challenge, and what all this may tell us (...)
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  12. La estructura lógica del comportamiento humano.Michael Starks - 2019 - Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press.
    Mi afirmación es que la tabla de intencionalidad (racionalidad, mente, pensamiento, lenguaje, personalidad, etc.) que se presenta aquí describe de forma prominente más o menos precisa, o al menos sirve como una heurística para, cómo pensamos y comportamos, y por lo que abarca no meramente filosofía y psicología, pero todo lo demás (historia, literatura, matemáticas, política, etc.). Tenga en cuenta especialmente que la intencionalidad y la racionalidad como yo (junto con Searle, Wittgenstein y otros) lo ve, incluye tanto deliberativo consciente (...)
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  13. Triangulation and the private language argument.Ahmed Arif - 2017 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 30:35-52.
    The paper attempts a novel defense of the main claim of Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument, i.e. that 'inner' ostensive definition is impossible. Part 1 traces Wittgenstein's target to the idea that 'ostensive definition' is a mental act, an idea that makes it tempting to think that its objects might just as well be private as public. Part 2 discusses a recent interpretation and defence of Wittgenstein's position due to Stroud and McGinn. On their view, private ostensive definition establishes no pattern (...)
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  14. Sensations, Natural Properties, and the Private Language Argument.William Child - 2017 - In Kevin M. Cahill & Thomas Raleigh (eds.), Wittgenstein and Naturalism. New York: Routledge. pp. 79-95.
    Wittgenstein’s philosophy involves a general anti-platonism about properties or standards of similarity. On his view, what it is for one thing to have the same property as another is not dictated by reality itself; it depends on our classificatory practices and the standards of similarity they embody. Wittgenstein’s anti-platonism plays an important role in the private language sections and in his discussion of the conceptual problem of other minds. In sharp contrast to Wittgenstein’s views stands the contemporary doctrine of natural (...)
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  15. TYPES OF INTERSUBJECTIVITY and Alternative Reality Images.Ulrich De Balbian - 2017 - Oxford: Academic Publishers.
    Exploration of INTERSUBJECTIVITY is continued. Different kinds of if are differentiated and signs for its presence and effects are shown. The difference between it, subjectivity and objectivity are explored. Intersubjectivity is crucial and universal for general everyday discourse in all cultures, sub-cultures, institutions, communities and socio-cultural practices such as religion, sport, etc or the so-called Manifest Image. It is essential for specialized areas, for example religion, sport and disciplines such as the humanities, arts, sciences, philosophy and all institutions. It is (...)
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  16. William James on Conceptions and Private Language.Henry Jackman - 2017 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 30:175-193.
    William James was one of the most frequently cited authors in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, but the attention paid to James’s Principles of Psycho- logy in that work is typically explained in terms of James having ‘committed in a clear, exemplary manner, fundamental errors in the philosophy of mind.’ (Goodman 2002, p. viii.) The most notable of these ‘errors’ was James’s purported commitment to a conception of language as ‘private’. Commentators standardly treat James as committed to a conception of language as (...)
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  17. Bellow's private language.Michael LeMahieu - 2017 - In Michael LeMahieu & Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé (eds.), Wittgenstein and Modernism. University of Chicago Press.
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  18. What We Can Learn about Phenomenal Concepts from Wittgenstein’s Private Language.de Sá Pereira Roberto Horácio - 2016 - Nordic Wittgenstein Review 5 (2):125-152.
    This paper is both systematic and historical in nature. From a historical viewpoint, I aim to show that to establish Wittgenstein’s claim that “an ‘inner process’ stands in need of outward criteria” (PI §580) there is an enthymeme in Wittgenstein’s private language argument (henceforth PLA) overlooked in the literature, namely Wittgenstein’s suggestion that both perceptual and bodily experiences are transparent in the relevant sense that one cannot point to a mental state and wonder “What is that?” From a systematic viewpoint, (...)
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  19. Is there such a thing as pragmatics?--Review of Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics 2nd ed (2009).Michael Starks - 2016 - In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization-- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 2nd Edition Feb 2018. Michael Starks. pp. 381-399.
    Clearly neither I nor anyone will ever read any substantial part of this massive tome so I will discuss the one article that interests me most and which I think provides the framework necessary for the understanding of all the rest. I refer to the one on Ludwig Wittgenstein (W). Even were I to try to discuss others, we would not get past the first page as all the issues here arise immediately in any discussion of behavior. The differentiation of (...)
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  20. Représentationnalisme et langage privé : une défense wittgensteinienne du caractère non-représentationnel de la phénoménalité.François Kammerer - 2015 - Philosophie 126 (3):62-90.
    Dans « Représentationnalisme et langage privé », François Kammerer s’attache à la thèse dite du représentationnalisme qui, au regard de la conscience phénoménale, pose que les propriétés qualitatives d’une expérience consciente sont entièrement déterminées par ses propriétés représentationnelles ; de nombreux arguments ont été proposés en faveur de cette thèse, qui est devenue l’orthodoxie en philosophie de l’esprit contemporaine. L’auteur entend réfuter les arguments les plus significatifs, en se fondant sur des considérations de Wittgenstein sur l’impossibilité d’un « langage privé (...)
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  21. Appendix What Happens to the Private Language Argument?Michael Luntley - 2015 - In Wittgenstein. Chichester, UK: Wiley. pp. 159–169.
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  22. Another Look at the Rule‐Following Paradox.Greg Janzen - 2014 - Philosophical Forum 45 (1):69-88.
    Saul Kripke has famously argued that the central question of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, at least in relation to Wittgenstein's discussion of meaning, is the question: what facts determine that a speaker is following a particular rule? For example, assuming that language-use is a rule-governed activity, what facts determine that the rule a speaker is complying with in her current usage of a word is equivalent to the rule she complied with in her previous usage of the word? According to Kripke, (...)
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  23. “It is not a something, but not a nothing either!”—McDowell on Wittgenstein.Hao Tang - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):557-567.
    This paper corrects a mistake in John McDowell’s influential reading of Wittgenstein’s attack on the idea of private sensations. McDowell rightly identifies a primary target of Wittgenstein’s attack to be the Myth of the Given. But he also suggests that Wittgenstein, in the ferocity of his battles with this myth, sometimes goes into overkill, which manifests itself in seemingly behavioristic denials about sensations. But this criticism of Wittgenstein is a mistake. The mistake is made over two important but notoriously difficult (...)
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  24. Wittgenstein and the Dualism of the Inner and the Outer.Hao Tang - 2014 - Synthese 191 (14):3173-3194.
    A dualism characteristic of modern philosophy is the conception of the inner and the outer as two independently intelligible domains. Wittgenstein’s attack on this dualism contains deep insights. The main insight (excavated from §304 and §293 of the Philosophical Investigations) is this: our sensory consciousness is deeply shaped by language and this shaping plays a fundamental role in the etiology of the dualism. I locate this role in the learning of a sensation-language (as described in §244), by showing that this (...)
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  25. Jezik in javno: reorganizacija trivija v Lockovem Eseju in v Portroyalski logiki.Gregor Kroupa - 2013 - Filozofski Vestnik 34 (3):57-74.
    "Language and its Public Features: Reorganizing the Trivium in Locke's Essay and Port-Royal Logic" The new theory of language in the 17th century coincides with the end the traditional order of disciplines in the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric), which in the mediaeval times provided a comprehensive view of the problems of discourse. The article focuses on some key passages in Port-Royal Logic and Locke's Essay that provide us with a typical early modern scheme of linguistic representation, characterised by heavily (...)
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  26. Kripke's account of the rule‐following considerations.Andrea Guardo - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):366-388.
    This paper argues that most of the alleged straight solutions to the sceptical paradox which Kripke ascribed to Wittgenstein can be regarded as the first horn of a dilemma whose second horn is the paradox itself. The dilemma is proved to be a by‐product of a foundationalist assumption on the notion of justification, as applied to linguistic behaviour. It is maintained that the assumption is unnecessary and that the dilemma is therefore spurious. To this end, an alternative conception of the (...)
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  27. Los argumentos del lenguaje privado. Notas para la reconstrucción de una controversia.Pedro Karczmarczyk - 2012 - Fenomenologia. Diálogos Possíveis Campinas: Alínea/Goiânia: Editora da Puc Goiás 92:73-124.
    Intentaremos reconstruir la controversia acerca de la posibilidad de un lenguaje privado. Analizamos primero las posiciones “epistemológicas” (Malcolm y Fogelin), mostrando sus fallos. Luego analizamos la versión “semántica” (Kenny y Tugendhat) encontrándolas igualmente fallidas. La crítica de Barry Stroud a los argumentos trascendentales como argumentos antiescépticos nos permite discernir el presupuesto común que debilita las posiciones anteriores. Asimismo, la reconstrucción permite apreciar mejor la manera en la que la versión de Kripke evita comprometerse con este presupueto. Argumentamos que esta versión (...)
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  28. Community Rules: What Does Kripke’s Sceptical Paradox Imply for Private Language?J. Kloeg - 2012 - Filozofija 35:61-76.
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  29. Reality and Concepts (in French).Francois-Igor Pris - 2012 - AL-MUKHATABAT (04):227-240.
  30. In Defence of Kripkenstein: On Lewis’ Proposed Solution to the Sceptical Argument.John Newson Wright - 2012 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (5):603-621.
    In Wittgenstein: On Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke argues for an extreme form of meaning scepticism. One influential reply to Kripke’s arguments was developed by David Lewis. The reply developed by Lewis makes use of the notion of mind-independent relations of similarity and difference. The aim of the paper is to argue that Lewis’ reply is not satisfactory: the challenge to find a refutation of Kripke’s sceptical arguments remains unmet.
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  31. Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument.George Wrisley - 2011-09-16 - In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments. Wiley‐Blackwell. pp. 350–354.
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  32. The Inner Word Prior to Language.Phillip Cary - 2011 - Philosophy Today 55 (2):192-198.
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  33. Quine’s Behaviorism and Linguistic Meaning: Why Quine’s Behaviorism is not Illicit.Tyrus Fisher - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (1):51-59.
    Some of Quine’s critics charge that he arrives at a behavioristic account of linguistic meaning by starting from inappropriately behavioristic assumptions (Kripke 1982, 14; Searle 1987, 123). Quine has even written that this account of linguistic meaning is a consequence of his behaviorism (Quine 1992, 37). I take it that the above charges amount to the assertion that Quine assumes the denial of one or more of the following claims: (1) Language-users associate mental ideas with their linguistic expressions. (2) A (...)
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  34. El Argumento Del Lenguaje Privado a Contrapelo.Pedro Karczmarczyk - 2011 - La Plata, Argentina: Editorial de la Universidad de La Plata (Edulp).
    La tesis de la privacidad linguitica nace con el gesto fundador de la filosofía moderna que apoya toda legitimidad en la subjetividad y la conciencia. Ello da origen a dos problemas filos�ficos fundamentales, concernientes al mundo y al solipsismo. El siglo XX creyó encontrar en el lenguaje una salida a estos problemas. Wittgenstein es allí una pieza clave. Sin embargo las interpretaciones más influyentes de Wittgenstein enfocaron la crítica del lenguaje privado de tal modo que la salida debía permanecer en (...)
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  35. Phenomenal Concepts and the Private Language Argument.David Papineau - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2):175.
    In this paper I want to consider whether the 'phenomenal concepts' posited by many recent philosophers of mind are consistent with Wittgenstein’s private language argument. The paper will have three sections. In the first I shall explain the rationale for positing phenomenal concepts. In the second I shall argue that phenomenal concepts are indeed inconsistent with the private language argument. In the last I shall ask whether this is bad for phenomenal concepts or bad for Wittgenstein.
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  36. Private Language.David Stern - 2011 - In Marie McGinn & Oskari Kuusela (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein. Oxford University Press.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein's treatment of private language has received more attention than any other aspect of his philosophy. Yet, for more than fifty years, a remarkably self-contained exegetical tradition has defined the terms of debate and the principal positions that are discussed. Orthodox interpreters hold that the proof that a private language is impossible turns on showing it is ruled out by some set of systematic philosophical commitments about logic, meaning, and knowledge. Leading candidates for this ground on which the argument (...)
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  37. Wherefore the Failure of Private Ostension?George Wrisley - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):483 - 498.
    ?258 of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is often seen as the core of his private language argument. While its role is certainly overinflated and it is a mistake to think that there is anything that could be called the private language argument, ?258 is an important part of the private language sections of the Philosophical Investigations. As with so much of Wittgenstein's work, there are widely diverse interpretations of why exactly the private diarist's attempted ostensive definition fails. I argue for a (...)
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  38. Music, Essential Metaphor, and Private Language.Nick Zangwill - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (1):1.
    Music is elusive. describing it is problematic. In particular its aesthetic properties cannot be captured in literal description. Beyond very simple terms, they cannot be literally described. In this sense, the aesthetic description of music is essentially nonliteral. An adequate aesthetic description of music must have resort to metaphor or other nonliteral devices. I maintain that this is because of the nature of the aesthetic properties being described. I defend this view against an apparently simple objection put by Malcolm Budd. (...)
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  39. Review of Stephen Mulhall, Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in PI 243-515. [REVIEW]Oskari Kuusela - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):867-869.
  40. Wittgenstein's private language: Grammar, nonsense, and imagination in philosophical investigations, §§243-315 (review). [REVIEW]Marie McGinn - 2010 - Philosophy and Literature 34 (1):pp. 265-269.
    The primary concern of Stephen Mulhall's book is to investigate an interpretation of Wittgenstein's remarks on private language, associated paradigmatically with Norman Malcolm. On this reading, the grammar of our ordinary concepts of language, reference, meaning, rule, etc. is held to prohibit or exclude the idea of a private language. The attempt to give expression to the idea is held to result in a violation of the grammar of these concepts, which connects them essentially with the idea of public criteria (...)
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  41. Another strand in the private language argument.David Stern - 2010 - In Arif Ahmed (ed.), Wittgenstein's Philosophical investigations: a critical guide. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    The title of this chapter is borrowed from John McDowell's ‘One strand in the private language argument’ (1998b). In that paper, he argues that much of what is best in Wittgenstein's discussion of private language can be seen as a development of the Kantian insight that there is no such thing as an unconceptualized experience - that even the most elementary sensation must have a conceptual aspect. On McDowell's view, a sensation is a ‘perfectly good something - an object, if (...)
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  42. Tracing the Development of Wittgenstein’s Writing on Private Language.David G. Stern - 2010 - In Nuno Venturinha (ed.), Wittgenstein after His Nachlass. Palgrave-Macmillan.
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  43. Kripke's account of the argument against private language.Crispin Wright - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing about language. New York: Routledge.
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  44. Su che cosa si pretende dal significato.Andrea Guardo - 2009 - Acme 62 (1):335-347.
  45. Psychological investigations: the private language argument and inferences in contemporary cognitive science.C. D. Meyers & Sara Waller - 2009 - Synthese 171 (1):135-156.
    Some of the methods for data collection in experimental psychology, as well as many of the inferences from observed behavior or image scanning, are based on the implicit premise that language use can be linked, via the meaning of words, to specific subjective states. Wittgenstein’s well known private language argument (PLA), however, calls into question the legitimacy of such inferences. According to a strong interpretation of PLA, all of the elements of a language must be publicly available. Thus the meaning (...)
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  46. The private language argument.Bede Rundle - 2009 - In P. M. S. Hacker, Hans-Johann Glock & John Hyman (eds.), Wittgenstein and Analytic Philosophy: Essays for P. M. S. Hacker. Oxford University Press.
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  47. Private language.Stewart Candlish - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    cannot understand the language.”[1] This is not intended to cover (easily imaginable) cases of recording one's experiences in a personal code, for such a code, however obscure in fact, could in principle be deciphered. What Wittgenstein had in mind is a language conceived as necessarily comprehensible only to its single originator because the things which define its vocabulary are necessarily inaccessible to others.
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  48. Private language thesis and its epistemological import: a study in philosophy of language.Benjamin Ike Ewelu - 2008 - Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria: Delta Publications.
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  49. A Critique of Saul Kripke's "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language".Chrysoula Gitsoulis - 2008 - Dissertation, Graduate Center, City University of New York
    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 (...)
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  50. Il mito del dato.Andrea Guardo - 2008 - Dissertation, Università Degli Studi di Milano
    "Mente e mondo", il libro che raccoglie le tanto celebrate quanto discusse "John Locke Lectures" di John McDowell, appartiene ad un genere filosofico classico, quello dell'"indagine sui poteri della mente umana". Secondo McDowell, un'indagine di questo tipo è necessaria alla risoluzione di alcuni fra i principali problemi epistemologici e semantici. Attraverso una dettagliata analisi dei lavori di McDowell ed un'approfondita discussione del problema del "seguire una regola" e del connesso paradosso di Kripke-Wittgenstein, questo volume cerca di dimostrare che la posizione (...)
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