Necessary Truth and Grammatical Propositions

Hans-Johann Glock


The topic of this paper is what I call the linguistic doctrine or, keeping in mind Wittgenstein’s animadversions to philosophical theories, the linguistic account of necessary propositions. I shall first present a sketch of the linguistic doctrine, and of its two versions—classical conventionalism which maintains that necessary propositions are true by virtue of meaning and Wittgenstein’s and Carnap’s alternative that they are constitutive of meaning (section I). Next I discuss classical conventionalism and some of the criticisms that have been raised against it by Quine and Wittgenstein (section II). In section III, I turn to Wittgenstein’s ‘grammatical’ version of the linguistic doctrine. My main interest will be to explore in how far it can stand up to the objections of reasonably sympathetic critics like Kalhat. In the final section I return to the question of whether there isn’t after all a kernel of truth in classical conventionalism, taking my cue from Schroeder.


20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; epistemology; grammatical sentence; logic; necessity; philosophy; philosophy of language; tautology

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