Russell’s Epistemic Understanding of Logic

Kearns, John T. (2005) Russell’s Epistemic Understanding of Logic. Teorema: Revista internacional de filosofía, 24 (3). pp. 115-131. ISSN 0210-1602

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In “On Denoting”, Russell provided a logical analysis of definite descriptions that is based on his epistemological views about our knowledge of the world. Knowledge by acquaintance is knowledge of those objects to which we have direct cognitive access; this is our most fundamental knowledge. We use language to think and talk about the world by employing expressions (logically proper names) for objects of acquaintance. Russell’s account of descriptions explains how these expressions which don’t label objects of acquaintance “disappear” upon analysis, leaving us with expressions which do label such objects. In the present paper, Russell’s project of explaining how we use language to access objects is applauded, but his epistemological theory and his analysis of descriptions are criticized. A theory of speech acts, or language acts, is used to sketch an account of referring which explains how we use language to access objects in the world, the very objects we intend. Singular terms have both referring and non referring, or predicative uses. Russell’s analysis comes close to being adequate for the non-referring use of singular terms, but does not accommodate the referring use. A system of speech act logic, or illocutionary logic, is outlined which makes room for both the ontological and the epistemic dimensions of logic. Standard logic focuses on the ontological dimension, and can “handle” the non-referring use of singular terms. Referring requires extra-linguistic knowledge; an account of referring belongs to the epistemic side of logic.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Philosophie > Philosophische Journale, Kongresse, Vereinigungen > Teorema. Revista internacional de filosofia > Volume XXIV (2005)
Depositing User: sandra subito
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2020 16:04
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2020 16:04

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