Was Russell Shot or Did He Fall? Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In his critical notice of Russell's Theory of Knowledge, R. E. Tully takes issue with my interpretation of Wittgenstein's criticism of Russell's theory of judgment. Against it he raises two objections and also sketches an alternative interpretation. On Tully's characterization, I believe that Russell was shot out of the tree by a subtle but devastating argument, while Tully believes that he was shaken out of the tree by a much broader but non-lethal attack on his conception of a proposition. The metaphor is not inappropriate. I certainly believe that Wittgenstein's attack was lethal to Russell's theory of judgment and shows extraordinary marksmanship. But I do not want to deny that there was a lot of tree shaking going on at the same time—concerning, in particular, the logical constants and the concept of a proposition, both of which were topics closely related to the theory of judgment. Thus, while I maintain that Russell was shot, I do not subscribe to a single-bullet theory (although it must be admitted that, in such cases, the individuation of bullets is far from precise).

publication date

  • 1991