David Bostock

in Russell's Logical Atomism

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199651443
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741197 | DOI:

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Russell invokes acquaintance with particular objects, with universals, and (tentatively) with the concepts of logic, in each case as the explanation of our understanding of propositions. The first does appear to be needed, for definite descriptions cannot account for all reference to particular objects, and ‘direct reference’ is therefore required. But Russell himself later came to recognise that acquaintance with universals was not required, and the same surely applies to the concepts of logic. As for particulars, Russell supposed that one could be acquainted only with one’s own sense-data; one refers to these by using a ‘logical proper name’, e.g. the demonstrative ‘this’. He failed to see Kaplan’s point, that in common use this word is accompanied by a demonstration, which associates it with what Frege might call a ‘sense’, i.e. a ‘mode of presentation’. But, to use Kripke’s language, this ‘sense’ merely ‘fixes the reference’, and does not ‘give the meaning’. Once this point is seen, one can resist Russell’s claim that only sense-data can be objects of ‘direct reference’.

Keywords: acquaintance; particulars, universals; logical concepts; direct reference; sense-data; names; descriptions; demonstratives; Kaplan; Kripke

Chapter.  12612 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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