Rule-Following Revisited

Warren Goldfarb

in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737666
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199933372 | DOI:
Rule-Following Revisited

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This chapter argues that Wittgenstein does not aim, as many interpreters suggest, to show that our practices of rule-following are groundless, but nor does he aim to show that these practices are grounded, in any philosophical sense of these terms. Rather, Wittgenstein wishes to undermine the very notions of grounds and groundlessness that philosophers attempt to employ in discussions of rule-following. The mistake that many of Wittgenstein’s readers make, it is argued, is to suppose that questions of justification or explanation concerning rule-following can be appropriately posed quite generally, i.e., without respect to particular, ordinary cases in which a need for justification or explanation arises. It is here where Wittgenstein’s emphasis on practice is important. The practices that Wittgenstein has in mind are not merely, as many interpreters have assumed, the practices of how to proceed in certain cases--that we put 1,002 after 1,000 when following the instruction “add 2”, for instance. But they crucially include the practices we engage in when questions of justification or grounds arise in ordinary contexts, what we say and do in those situations.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; rule-following; practice; justification; grounds; grounded; explanation; add 2; ordinary; private language; follow a rule; Philosophical Investigations

Chapter.  10130 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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