James Buckhalter is a postgraduate researcher.
Wittgenstein, truth, and ethics
My doctoral thesis examines how we ought to regard ethical propositions in light of the work of Wittgenstein. My focus is primarily on Wittgenstein's later work, in particular Philosophical Investigations and On Certainty, although the earlier and intermediate works are also of great value.
I attempt four main things. First, an analysis of truth such that, as a concept, it is language-game dependent; I therefore commit to treating truth just as one would any other word under a Wittgensteinian use-based understanding of meaning. Second, an understanding of the concept of the weltbild, as present in On Certainty that sees this not solely as Wittgenstein's isolated treatment of the concerns of epistemology, but as a crucial extension of the earlier work on language-games and rule-following; this will also encompass a discussion as to whether one might be able to 'read-off' one's world picture from the practices of certain language-games. Third, I discuss the nature of ethical propositions, how they relate to Wittgenstein's conception of religious language, whether they are truly cognitive, empirical propositions or whether they have some special status along the lines of faith-based belief. This, I will argue, is dependent upon the nature of truth particular to the language-game, as per the first aim. Finally I examine on what basis and to what extent it is possible - i.e. within the bounds of meaningful language - for the speakers of one ethical language-game to criticise those of another ethical language-game, keen to avoid charges of relativism is possible.
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