A Perennial Illusion? Wittgenstein, Quentin Skinner's Contextualism and the Possibility of Refuting Past Philosophers

Philosophical Investigations 41 (3):304-328 (2018)
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Contemporary philosophers often purport to ‘borrow’ or ‘refute’ claims made by past philosophers. In doing so they contravene a contextualist methodological prohibition once defended by Quentin Skinner in his seminal paper “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas”. Skinner's methodology has been much debated by theorists of textual meaning and interpretation, and yet the precise nature of the logical path from his premises to his prohibitory conclusion remains elusive. This paper seeks to refute two of the most promising variants of an argument for his methodological prohibition on ‘refutation’, one of which draws on his appeal to Wittgenstein's conception of ‘meaning as use’, and the other of which draws on his appeal to speech act theory.



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Tim Beaumont
Shenzhen University

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References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Tractatus logico-philosophicus.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1922 - Filosoficky Casopis 52:336-341.
Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.William P. Alston - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (79):172-179.
Speech Acts.J. Searle - 1969 - Foundations of Language 11 (3):433-446.

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