Synthese Library

The Rule-Following Paradox and its Implications for Metaphysics

Authors: Azzouni, Jody

  • Presents a new approach to the rule-following problem
  • Offers arguments against reference magnetism
  • Features a fresh view of truth conditional semantics
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About this book

This monograph presents Azzouni’s new approach to the rule-following paradox. His solution leaves intact an isolated individual’s capacity to follow rules, and it simultaneously avoids replacing the truth conditions for meaning-talk with mere assertability conditions for that talk. 

Kripke’s influential version of Wittgenstein’s rule-following paradox—and Wittgenstein’s views more generally—on the contrary, make rule-following practices and assertions about those practices subject to community norms without which they lose their cogency.

Azzouni summarizes and develops Kripke’s original version of Wittgenstein’s rule-following paradox to make salient the linchpin assumptions of the paradox. By doing so, Azzouni reveals how compelling Kripke’s earlier work on the paradox was. Objections raised over the years by Fodor, Forbes Ginsborg, Goldfarb, Tait, Wright, and many others, are all shown to fail. No straight solution (a solution that denies an assumption of the

paradox) can be made to work. Azzouni illustrates this in detail by showing that a popular family of straight solutions due to Lewis and refined by Williams, “reference magnetism,” fail as well. 

And yet an overlooked sceptical solution is still available in logical space. Azzouni describes a series of “disposition-meaning” private languages that he shows can be successfully used by a population of speakers to communicate with one another despite their ideolectical character. The same sorts of languages enable solitary “Robinson Crusoes” to survive and flourish in their island habitats. These languages—sufficiently refined—have the same properties normal human languages have; and this is the key to solving the rule-following paradox without sacrificing the individual’s authority over her self-imposed rules or her ability to follow those rules. 

Azzouni concludes this unusual monograph by uncovering a striking resemblance between the rule-following paradox and

Hume’s problem of induction: he shows the rule-following paradox to be a corollary of Hume’s problem that arises when the problem of induction is applied to an individual’s own abilities to follow rules.


“The book is clearly and engagingly written, and the conclusions are well-argued-for. (Depressingly well-argued-for in the case of Chapter 3, as I've always been partial to Lewisian responses to Putnam's model-theoretic argument--I'm rethinking that now.) And the proposed solution to the rule-following paradox really is novel.”

Joshua Brown  - Gustavus Adolphus College

About the authors

Jody Azzouni is the author of Talking about Nothing: Numbers, Hallucinations, and Fictions (2010, Oxford), Semantic Perception: How the Illusion of a Common Language Arises and Persists (2013, Oxford), Deflating Existential Consequence: A case for Nominalism (2004, Oxford), and several other books. He’s also published numerous articles in philosophy of mathematics, ontology, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and other areas. He’s currently professor of philosophy at Tufts University.

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  • General Introduction

    Azzouni, Jody

    Pages 1-7

  • Kripke’s Version of Wittgenstein’s Paradox and His Solution

    Azzouni, Jody

    Pages 9-31

  • Two Versions of Robinson Crusoe

    Azzouni, Jody

    Pages 33-54

  • Reference Magnetism

    Azzouni, Jody

    Pages 55-72

  • How Positive Success Curves Enable Private Rule Following

    Azzouni, Jody

    Pages 73-85

Buy this book

eBook $69.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-49061-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-49060-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $89.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-58336-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Rule-Following Paradox and its Implications for Metaphysics
Authors
Series Title
Synthese Library
Series Volume
382
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer International Publishing AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-49061-8
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-49061-8
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-49060-1
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-58336-5
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 128
Topics