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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 61, Issue 3, September 2021

Carl Humphries
Pages 297-316

Ontological Realism and the Later Wittgenstein

If Wittgenstein’s later writings have implications for ontological investigations, they would appear to center on the thought that metaphysical claims, along with ontological commitments more broadly conceived, are problematically distanced from our everyday activities of language use and the contexts these involve. If they are taken in this way, it can seem natural to view them as furnishing a basis for thinking that ontological realism, at least when construed as metaphysically motivated, can be ruled out on linguistic-conceptual and/or ethical grounds as incompatible with how language figures in our lives. This paper argues against such a conclusion by claiming that on each of the currently prevalent approaches to interpreting Wittgenstein’s later thought, if we construe him as essentially an anti-dogmatic thinker, then we cannot draw such implications from his work without uncharitably attributing to him an internally inconsistent stance—one involving some sort of dogmatic commitment itself.

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