Family resemblances and criteria

Synthese 105 (2):177-190 (1995)
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In §66 ofPhilosophical Investigations Wittgenstein looks for something common to various games and finds only an interconnecting network of resemblances. These are family resemblances. Sympathetic as well as unsympathetic readers have interpreted him as claiming that games form a family in virtue of these resemblances. This assumes Wittgenstein inverted the relation between being a member of a family and bearing family resemblances to others of that family. (The Churchills bear family resemblances to one another because they belong to the same family, they don't belong to the same family because they resemble one another.) A close reading ofInvestigations gives no evidence that Wittgenstein made this mistake. Rather, family resemblances may play a role like the one criteria play for psychological terms. They give excellent but fallible evidence for membership in the extensions of some terms.



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Heather Gert
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

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New Work For a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1997 - In David Hugh Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wittgenstein.Anthony Kenny - 1973 - Cambridge, Mass.,: Harvard University Press.
Investigating Wittgenstein.Merrill B. Hintikka - 1986 - New York, NY, USA: Blackwell. Edited by Jaakko Hintikka.

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