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Instructor: Ram Neta. This course meets T 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. in CW 208.

“Reasoning and Rule Following”

Philosophers often think of reasoning as a matter of following rules.  To reason from a premise p to a conclusion q involves following a rule that licenses this inference.  But rules are thought to be general:  a rule that licenses the inference from p to q is not simply the rule that, from premise p, draw conclusion q, but rather a rule that tells you to draw conclusions of one kind (a kind that, in this case, includes q) from premises of another kind (a kind that, in this case, includes p).  If rules are general, then following a rule in a particular case would seem to involve an inference from the specific features of the particular case and the general content of the rule, on the one hand, to the conclusion that the rule licenses a specific inference in this particular case, on the other hand.  And so rule following seems to involve reasoning.  But if reasoning is a matter of following rules, and following rules is a matter of reasoning, then — some philosophers have wondered — how is either reasoning or rule following possible?  This course will address different versions of this form of skepticism concerning reasoning and rule following, as it’s appeared in philosophy since the publication of Saul Kripke’s book WITTGENSTEIN ON RULES AND PRIVATE LANGUAGE.  We will read articles by Paul Boghossian, Crispin Wright, John Broome, Sinan Dogramaci, Kate Nolfi, and Lisa Mirachi.