Online: 3. Arthur Pap Vorlesung 2020 | 3rd Arthur Pap-Lecture, December 02, 2020 | Sanford Shieh, Wesleyan University

Returns of Modality: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Arthur Pap

Sanford Shieh, Wesleyan University

Returns of Modality: Wittgenstein's Tractatus and Arthur Pap

Sanford Shieh

Zusammen mit Vienna Circle Society/Togehter with Vienna Circle Society

Date: 02. December 2020
Time: 17h00
Plattform: Moodle Collaborate


According to a popular myth, modality was unjustly banished from analytic philosophy by the Vienna Circle on empiricist grounds and not restored to its rightful central place until Kripke. In this talk I explore some aspects of the philosophical historical realities occluded by this myth. After touching briefly on Frege's and Russell's opposition to modality on entirely non-empiricist bases, I outline Wittgenstein's philosophical path to a rejoinder to Frege and Russell in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Starting from criticism of Russell's multiple-relation theory of judgment, Wittgenstein eventually arrived, in the Tractatus, at an account of propositions in terms of picturing that requires an ineliminable primitive notion of possibility. In the second part of the talk I sketch the development of relativized, pragmatic accounts of apriority, analyticity, and necessity by Reichenbach and Carnap. I conclude by presenting Arthur Pap's argument for the absolute necessity of logic, circumscribing the limitations of the pragmatic logical empiricist theory of modality.

Bio: Sanford Shieh is Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University. He works in the philosophies of logic, mathematics, and modality through their histories in the analytical traditions of philosophy. For the past decade, he has been engaged in a philosophical history of modality and logic in analytic philosophy, an outline of which appears as the chapter on modality in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy. The first result of this project is a monograph, Necessity Lost. He is also editor, with Juliet Floyd, of Future Pasts: The Analytic Tradition in Twentieth-Century Philosophy.

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