Selected abstracts:

Has the Later Wittgenstein Accounted For Necessity?

Javier Kalhat, University of Reading

In this paper, I argue against the later Wittgenstein’s conventionalist account of necessity. I first show that necessary propositions and grammatical rules differ in ways that make an explanation of the former in terms of the latter inadequate. I then argue that even if Wittgenstein’s account were adequate, the explanation of necessity it offers would still fail to be genuinely reductive of the modal notion.

Necessity and Language: In Defence of Conventionalism

Hans-Johann Glock, University of Zurich

Kalhat has forcefully criticised Wittgenstein’s linguistic or conventionalist account of logical necessity, drawing partly on Waismann and Quine. I defend conventionalism against the charge that it cannot do justice to the truth of necessary propositions, renders them unacceptably arbitrary or reduces them to metalingustic statements. At the same time, I try to reconcile Wittgenstein’s claim that necessary propositions are constitutive of meaning with the logical positivists’ claim that they are true by virtue of meaning. Explaining necessary propositions by reference to linguistic conventions does not reduce modal to non-modal notions, but it avoids metaphysical accounts, which are incapable of explaining how we can have a priori knowledge of necessity.