How Dissolving The Rule-Following Paradox Can Give Philosophy A Future

Claudine Verheggen


Two decades ago, Saul Kripke declared the rule-following paradox presented by
Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations to be perhaps "the most radical and
original sceptical problem that philosophy has seen to date". (1982, 60) Yet, for all
the ink that has since been spilt on the subject, there is still no consensus on how
Wittgenstein treated the sceptical problem. There is not even a consensus on what
exactly the differences are among possible kinds of treatment or on whether these
differences are significant. Thus, on the one hand, John McDowell (1992) has argued
that there is only a notational variance between the straight solution and the
sceptical solution to the sceptical problem. And George Wilson (1994) has suggested
that there is little of substance to the distinction between sceptical solution and
dissolution. On the other hand, some commentators are convinced that the differences
among kinds of treatment are so profound, and their opponents so obviously wrong,
that they pay scarce attention to alternatives to their own favoured kind of
treatment. Most prominent among these commentators are the Kripkean sceptics, who
never consider rejecting the sceptical problem altogether, and the deflationist
therapists, who take Wittgenstein's claim that no kind of theory should be advanced
to entail that all philosophical problems should be dissolved.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; meaning; use; rule-following; skeptical paradox; skeptical solution; dissolution; therapy

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