In What Way Does Logic Involve Necessity?

Philosophical Topics 42 (2):289-337 (2014)
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In this paper I advance an account of the necessity of logic in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. I reject both the “metaphysical” reading of Peter Hacker, who takes Tractarian logical necessity to consist in the mode of truth of tautologies, and the “resolute” account of Cora Diamond, who argues that all Tractarian talk of necessity is to be thrown away. I urge an alternative conception based on remarks 3.342 and 6.124. Necessity consists in what is not arbitrary, and contingency in what is up to our arbitrary choice, in the symbols we use, in how we picture or model the world. Necessity is not a mode of truth of propositions, but lies in the requirements of their intelligibility. I argue that this conception is implicit in certain “resolute” readings and in some of their critics. Both sides of the dispute are committed to certain logical features of language or thought, patterns of symbolizing constitutive of intelligibility that are not up to us to institute or alter. This conception of non-arbitrary patterns of symbolizing, I argue, is what logical syntax in the Tractatus consists in. I also argue that the well-known Tractarian view of propositions as truth-functions of elementary propositions can be understood in terms of patterns of norms governing our making sense with the affirmation and denial of propositions.



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Sanford Shieh
Wesleyan University

Citations of this work

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