Giving Hostages to Irrationality?

Winch on the Philosopher as Judge of Human Thought


  • Lars Hertzberg Åbo Akademi University



crosscultural understanding, interpersonal understanding, reasoning, persuasion, creationism vs Darwinism, Winch Peter, contradiction


Peter Winch, following Wittgenstein, was critical of the notion that philosophy could pass judgment on matters like the sense of words, the rationality of actions, or the validity of arguments. His critique had both what we might call a local strand – the insight that criteria of thought and action are not universal but vary between cultures and between practices – and a personal strand – the insight that those local criteria are ultimately given shape through the particular applications made of them by individuals. These strands are prominent, for instance, in Winch’s discussion of cross-cultural understanding as well as his treatment of the distinction between valid reasoning and illicit persuasion.

Author Biography

Lars Hertzberg, Åbo Akademi University

Lars Hertzberg is professor emeritus of philosophy at Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland. He was a student at the University of Helsinki and at Cornell University (Ph.D. 1970). He has formerly taught at the University of Helsinki and at the University of Arizona. He has written articles on the philosophy of language, ethics, epistemology and Wittgenstein, some of which were published in The Limits of Experience (Acta Philosophica Fennica, 1994).


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