Wittgenstein and Family Concepts

Nordic Wittgenstein Review 5 (1):31-54 (2016)
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In this paper, I examine the three interpretations of sections 65-67 in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, where he answers the question “do we call different things by the same word because of a common feature?” Interpretation A holds that we call different things by the same word because of overlapping similarities between them; Interpretation B adopts a socio-historical reading, where concepts evolved and extended historically on the basis of some similarities; and interpretation C includes aspects of the first two interpretations, but sees similarities as just one of several kinds of relations and affinities between concepts which explain why we call different things by the same word. Through an investigation of Wittgenstein’s answer and the objections made to interpretation A, I argue that interpretation C, although not prominent in the secondary literature, provides better answers to the objections raised.



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Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
The Blue and Brown Books.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1958 - Philosophy 34 (131):367-368.
The Blue and Brown Books.Newton Garver - 1961 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 21 (4):576-577.

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