Excursus on Wittgenstein's Rule-Following Considerations

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Elek Lane


In this essay, I seek to demonstrate the interplay of philosophical voices – particularly, that of a platonist voice and a community-agreement-view voice – that drives Wittgenstein’s rule-following dialectic forward; and I argue that each voice succumbs to a particular form of dialectical oscillation that renders its response to the problem of rule-following philosophically inadequate. Finally, I suggest that, by seeing and taking stock of the dilemma in which these responses to the skeptical problem are caught, we can come to appreciate Wittgenstein’s own view of what might constitute a proper a response to the so-called problem of rule-following. This view can be preliminarily characterized by saying that Wittgenstein’s aim is to dissolve the temptation to philosophically rebut the skeptical challenge posed by the rule-following dialectic, an aim he achieves by revealing the semantic emptiness of the apparent sentences that raise the skeptical problem.

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rule-following; interpretation; normativity