Philosophy: Vol. 82, No. 2, April 2007

Article excerpt

Did Wittgenstein Speak with the Vulgar or Think with the Learned? Or Did He do Both?, JOHN W. COOK

Wittgenstein has often been criticized, and even dismissed, for being a patron of ordinary language, a champion of the vernacular, a defender of the status quo. One critic has written: "When Wittgenstein set up the actual use of language as a standard, that was equivalent to accepting a certain set up of culture and belief as a standard ... It is lucky no such philosophy was thought of until recently or we should still be under the sway of witch doctors ..." In what follows, the author wants to show just how wide of the mark criticisms of this sort are.

The Trojan Horse of the Scottish Philosophy, JAMES SOMERVILLE

James McCosh considered his product of "a labor of love," The Scottish Philosophy, Biographical, Expository, Critical, From Hutcheson To Hamilton, to fall within "what may be regarded as a new department of science, the history of thought." The value of the book lies, therefore, in not just its outlines of works of philosophers of the period with the views afforded of the academic life most of them led; but its sense--albeit unsure--that "the Scottish school of philosophy" (1) after its rise evolved into something less distinctive, more commonplace philosophically. McCosh could not admit that the school had declined. Noting the change, he barely hints at why it happened. The explanation, it will be argued, involves the central place assigned to belief in the doctrines of the school, so is of current interest given the undue prominence belief continues to be accorded by philosophers.

But Is It Art? A New Look at the Institutional Theory of Art, EDWARD SKIDELSKY

In 1973, the philosopher George Dickie proposed an ingenious new answer to the old question: what is art? Arthood, he suggested, is not an intrinsic property of objects, but a status conferred upon them by the institutions of the art world. He accordingly attached an exemplary significance to works like Duchamp's urinal, whose very lack of intrinsic distinction focuses our attention upon their institutional context. But his theory was about art in general, and not just readymades. "I am not claiming that Duchamp and his friends invented the conferring of the status of art; they simply used an existing institutional device in an unusual way."

Some Problems with Virtue Theory, NICHOLAS EVERITT

Virtue ethics (VE for short) is currently so widely embraced that different versions of the theory can now be distinguished. Some of these are mapped out in Statman's useful introduction to his collection. There are enough of these versions to constitute a family, and consequently what they share is a family resemblance rather than agreement to a defining set of necessary and sufficient conditions. What the author of this paper proposes to do, therefore, is to criticize one of the main versions of VE. Rosalind Hursthouse is the main proponent of the version which he will criticize. …