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Ian N Proops


PhD, Harvard University

Ian N Proops

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Courses


PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42154 • Fall 2016
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 302

A survey of principal topics and problems in areas such as ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion. 

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42305-42315 • Fall 2016
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 420

Course description

This course examines some of the central problems of philosophy, drawing on both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “tool kit” as well as its “greatest hits.” Topics include: Arguments for and against the existence of God, free will, moral responsibility, ethical theory, contemporary moral issues, feminism, and aesthetics. There are no prerequisites for this class.

 

Grading Policy

The final grade will be based on four components: (1) section attendance and participation (15%); (2) a forty-five-minute in-class test in the final class (25%); (3) one short paper (four pages, double-spaced, 12 point) due around mid-term (30%); and (4) a longer paper (five-six pages, double-spaced, 12 point; 30%) due at the end of the semester.  Note: plus and minus grades will be awarded.

 

Required Text

Reason and Responsibility, 15th edition, Joel Feinberg and Russ-Shafer Landau, eds. (Wadsworth).A small number of further articles, not included in this anthology, will be assigned.

 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41565-41575 • Spring 2016
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 214

We will study two classic texts written about a century apart: Descartes’ Meditations and Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The mains themes are: knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.

Hume’s Enquiry is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his discussion of miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil.

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41415-41425 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM CLA 0.102

This course examines some of the central problems of philosophy, drawing on both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “tool kit” as well as its “greatest hits.” Topics include: Arguments for and against the existence of God, free will, moral responsibility, ethical theory, contemporary moral issues, and the theory of knowledge. There are no prerequisites for this class.

PHL 381 • Kant

41720 • Fall 2015
Meets W 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 210

Prerequisites

Graduate standing and consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

The course examines Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as a whole, but we pay special attention to his criticisms of so-called ‘speculative’ metaphysics in the part of this work known as ‘the Dialectic.’ No previous exposure to Kant is presumed, and the Critique will be read in English. We begin by examining Kant’s views on space and time, his distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments, his metaphysics of experience, and his Transcendental Idealism. Once we have these basic features of his positive view in hand we will turn to a detailed examination of his more critical views in the Dialectic. These include: Kant’s objections to three traditional arguments for the existence of God (the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and the design argument), his critical diagnosis of rationalist claims to have knowledge of the inner nature of the self, his views on freedom, and his practical argument to the effect that beliefs in the Deist’s God and human immortality are, if not knowledge, then at least justified beliefs. Secondary literature will be assigned from: Karl Ameriks, Lanier Anderson, Henry Allison, Emily Carson, Katherine Dunlop, Corey Dyck, Michelle Grier, Patricia Kitcher, Charles Parsons, Derk Pereboom, Lisa Shabel, and Allen Wood, among others. I will also be assigning certain articles of my own, along with draft chapters from my book-in-progress on the Dialectic

Grading

A paper of 20-25 pages (double spaced) worth 80% of the grade and due at the end of the course. Participation in discussion will be expected of all members of the seminar (20%).

Texts

*Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason* translated by Norman Kemp Smith.

[Note: So that we can all be on the same page, it’s important that we all use the same translation. Kemp Smith’s, despite some well-known problems (which I’ll explain), is currently my favourite for the purpose of introducing students to Kant. The Kemp Smith is available on the web, but it would be useful if students could bring a hard copy to the seminar.]?

 

This seminar satisfies the History requirement.

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

41550-41560 • Spring 2015
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:00PM WAG 201

An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41765-41775 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 214

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42840-42850 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 301

This course examines some of the central problems of philosophy, drawing on both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “tool kit” as well as its “greatest hits.” Topics include: Arguments for and against the existence of God, free will, moral responsibility, ethical theory, contemporary moral issues, feminism, and aesthetics. There are no prerequisites for this class.

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

42980-42990 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 201

An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42940-42950 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 302

This course examines some of the perennial problems of philosophy, using both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “tool kit” and its heuristics, as well as its “greatest hits.” Topics include: The existence of God, free will, moral responsibility, ethical theory, applied ethics, and human knowledge. Further details are contained in the syllabus below. There are no prerequisites for this class.

PHL 381 • Kant

43185 • Fall 2013
Meets M 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 312

 

Instructors:   Ian Proops, Katherine Dunlop

Prerequisites

Graduate standing and consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

The first half of the course will introduce the project of a "Critique of Pure Reason" and Kant's view of knowledge as arising from the contributions of the sensible and intellectual faculties.  We will consider Kant's view that space and time are "forms of intuition" (i.e., of sensible representation), and how he introduces forms of intellectual thought in the contexts of "general" and "transcendental" logic.  Transcendental logic is supposed to consist of necessary rules for the understanding's use that (unlike the rules of general logic) take account of the content to which the rules apply.  As examples of such rules, we will consider Kant's attempts to prove principles governing the use of the concepts of substance and causality. The second half of the course will examine Kant’s criticisms of speculative metaphysics as they are developed in the part of the Critique known as the “Dialectic.” We will begin by examining Kant’s attempt to offer a general diagnosis of our predisposition toward metaphysical error in terms of an allegedly pervasive and unavoidable intellectual illusion—so-called “Transcendental Illusion.” We will then proceed to examine the particular fallacies to which Kant believes this illusion can—if we are not careful—lead. These fallacies occur in arguments that purport to establish, among other things, the existence and nature of God, the nature of the self (and the possibility of human immortality), and the existence of human freedom. No previous knowledge of Kant is presupposed.

Grading

The grade will be determined as follows. 80% final paper (roughly twenty pages); 15% seminar participation; 5% outline of the final paper (due three weeks before the final paper).

Texts

Critique of Pure Reason, Edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood.

Secondary readings from: Béatrice Longuenesse, Henry Allison, Lisa Shabel, Karl Ameriks, Patricia Kitcher, Allen Wood, James Van Cleve, Charles Parsons, and others.

 This course satisfies the History requirement.

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

42230-42240 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM WAG 302

An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42440-42450 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 302

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42305-42315 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 302

This course examines some of the central problems of philosophy, drawing on both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s tool kit as well as its “greatest hits.” Topics include: God, free will, moral responsibility, ethical theory, applied ethics, personal identity, and human knowledge. There are no prerequisites for this class.

Grading Policy

The final grade will be based on four components: (1) attendance and participation in section (there is no attendance requirement for class) (25%); (2) one short paper (four-to-five pages, double-spaced, 12 point), due around mid term (25%); (3) a longer paper (five-to-six pages, double-spaced, 12 point), due at the end of the semester (30%); (4) a forty-five-minute in-class (closed book) writing exercise, to be held on the final day of class (20%).  Note: plus and minus grades will be awarded.

Required Text

Reason and Responsibility, 14th edition (or more recent edition), Joel Feinberg and Russ-Shafer Landau, eds. (Wadsworth)

PHL 381 • Russell 1900-1914

42605 • Fall 2011
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 312

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

The seminar will take as its chief focus Russell's seminal article "On Denoting"; but we will approach this text by way of relevant topics in Russell’s 1903 work The Principles of Mathematics. We will also pay attention to Russell’s philosophy of mathematics and, in particular, the ways in which the various Russellian paradoxes shape Principia Mathematica. The course will divide into four main “units” (Please note: these descriptions are rough and subject to change and/or supplementation.)  

1. Russell’s early “Metaphysics of Meaning.” We will begin by examining Russell (and Moore’s) break with the English Idealism of F. H. Bradley, and the theory of propositions he develops as part of this reaction. We will briefly examine his early attempts to resolve the paradoxes, before evaluating the charge that Russell has a profligate “Meinongian” ontology in the Principles of Mathematics. We will pay particularly close attention to his theory of “denoting concepts” (a theory that Russell roundly attacks in “On Denoting”). In connection with this material we will read some excellent recent secondary literature by Stewart Candlish and Jim Levine. (approx. 2 meetings).  

2. “On Denoting.” We will examine: the precise content of the theory of descriptions; the sense in which it effects a reduction in Russell’s ontology; the idea of contextual definitions; and the way in which the theory resolves the three puzzles Russell states in “On Denoting.” We will proceed to examine Russell’s chief argument for the theory of descriptions, namely, the notorious “Gray’s Elegy Argument” of “On Denoting.” Finally, we will turn to topics in Russellian epistemology, including: the principle of acquaintance; Russell’s distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description (and related distinctions); the consequences of his resolution of the George IV puzzle for: (a) his logical atomism and his sense-datum- based epistemology (b) his later account of understanding (aka. “the multiple relation theory of judgment”). Secondary literature by: Bernard Linsky, Scott Soames, W. V. Quine, Gideon Makin, Mark Sainsbury, and—yes—Ian Proops (approx. 4 meetings).  

3. Principia Mathematica and the Cantorian paradoxes. We will sketch the content and goals of Russell’s “logicist” philosophy of mathematics. We will examine a range of Russellian paradoxes, as well as Russell’s various attempts to resolve them both in and before Principia. Topics will include: Russell’s 1905-7 substitutional theory, the ramified theory of types, and the role played by the axiom of reducibility and the (so-called) axiom of infinity in Russell’s system. Finally, we will ask whether the propositional paradox undermines contemporary theories of structured propositions. Secondary literature by: Michael Potter, Kevin Klement, Graham Stevens and Ian Proops. (approx. 3 meetings)  

4. Challenges to the Theory of Descriptions. We will survey both the classic and more recent objections to the theory of descriptions, including, if time permits, those of: Peter Strawson, Keith Donnellan, Leonard Linsky, Kai von Fintel, Delia Graff-Fara, and Peter Ludlow. We will study these objections in connection with several chapters from Stephen Neale’s book, which offers a defense of one kind of Russellian view, though I will argue that the view of descriptions Neale is defending is in fact not Russell’s. (approx. 4 meetings)  

I’m hoping that, in addition to orienting beginning graduate students to a cluster of issues in metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of logic and epistemology, the seminar will provide some in-depth historical background for more advanced graduate students who may want to claim “history of analytic philosophy” as an AOC. I have taught versions of this seminar twice before. My ulterior motive is to work up some of this material into a book on “On Denoting.”

Grading Policy: Enrolled students will be required to write one seminar paper of roughly 20-25 pages. The grade will be based entirely on this paper.

Texts

Russell, Bertrand, The Principles of Mathematics Russell Bertrand, Logic and Knowledge Russell, Bertrand, The Problems of Philosophy Russell, Bertrand, Mysticism and Logic Neale, Stephen, Descriptions A coursepack.

The seminar can be taken for credit in history of philosophy or metaphysics and epistemology (exclusive “or").

 

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

42670-42680 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM WAG 302

This course examines metaphysical and epistemological issues in early modern philosophy in a selection of major figures from Descartes to Kant. Topics include: the existence of God, scepticism, the existence of the external world, a priori knowledge, the nature of colour, the nature of the self, mind-body interaction, cause, possibility, substance, essence and free will. Note that ethical questions will not feature in this course. In addition to developing an understanding of these fundamental philosophical concepts and issues, students will learn how to read a historical text sympathetically yet critically.

Texts

The sole required text for this course is the anthology: Modern Philosophy, 2nd edition, Roger Ariew and Eric Watkins, eds. This is an anthology of primary texts in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophy. This text will be available at the Co-op on Guadalupe. Unfortunately, earlier editions are NOT suitable for our needs.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42950-42960 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 302

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 375M • Hegel's Phenomenol Of Spirit

42535 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 308

Course description

An examination of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as a whole. Having read some of Hegel’s short, introductory works for orientation, we will tackle the Phenomenology in a systematic fashion, focusing on the following themes and topics:  Sense-certainty, Consciousness and Self-Consciousness, the Hegelian Dialectic, the Concept of Spirit, Religion, and Absolute Knowledge.  Hegel’s work will be set in the context of earlier German Idealism, especially the ideas of Kant, Fichte and Schelling, but no previous familiarity with the work of these philosophers will be presupposed. 

Readings

Hegel Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, available on the web at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/re/parta.htm

Hegel Introduction to the Philosophy of History, Leo Rauch, trans. (Indianapolis: Hackett), 1988.

Hegel, G. W. F. The Phenomenology of Spirit, Terry Pinkard, trans. and ed., Draft translation, 2008, in an English-German parallel text –available on-line at http://web.mac.com/titpaul/Site/Phenomenology_of_Spirit_page.html

Stern, Robert: The Routledge Guidebook to Hegel and the Phenomenology of Spirit (Abingdon: Routledge), 2002.

Houlgate, Stephen, An Introduction to Hegel: Freedom, Truth and History (Oxford: Blackwell), 2005.

Beiser, Frederick, Hegel (Abingdon: Routledge), 2005.

Inwood, Michael, A Hegel Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell), 1992.

Pinkard, Terry, Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Sociality of Reason (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996)

Requirements and Grading Policy

Three papers, spaced evenly over the course of the term, and a final in-class, timed writing assignment. The first two papers will each be five pages long (12, double spacing) and will each account for 25% of the grade, the final paper will be seven pages long and account for 30%. The in-class writing assignment will last for 45 minutes. It will count for 20% of the grade. Students will be required to re-write and re-submit the first two papers in the light of comments from the instructor. Both the draft and the re-submission will be graded (and each will account for 12.5% of the grade). In the case of each of the first two papers, one class will be reserved for students to pair up and discuss their drafts several days before submitting them.  Plus and minus grades will be used.

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42705-42760 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM WCH 1.120

Attached

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

43045-43055 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CBA 4.324

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 381 • Kant's Critique Of Pure Reason

43490 • Fall 2009
Meets T 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 307

Past topics include major figures and movements in ancient, medieval, early modern, and nineteenth- and twentieth - century philosophy. 

Publications


"Russellian Acquaintance Revisited," forthcoming in Journal of History of Philosophy.

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"Russell on Substitutivity and the Abandonment of Propositions," The Philosophical Review, vol. 120, no. 2, April 2011, 151-205.

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"Kant's First Paralogism," The Philosophical Review, vol. 119, no. 4, October 2010, 449-495.

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"Russell and the Universalist Conception of Logic," Noûs, 41: 1, 2007, 1–32.

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"Russell‘s Reasons for Logicism," Journal of the History of Philosophy, 2006, 44:2, 267–92.

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"Soames on the Metaphysics and Epistemology of Moore and Russell," Philosophical Studies, 2006, 129: 627–635.

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"Kant‘s Conception of Analytic Judgment," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, May 2005, vol. 70, no. 3, 588–612.

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"Wittgenstein on the Substance of the World,", European Journal of Philosophy, April 2004, 12: 1, 106–126.

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"Kant's Legal Metaphor and the Nature of a Deduction", Journal of the History of Philosophy, April 2003, 41: 2, 209–29.

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"The Tractatus on Inference and Entailment,"in Erich Reck, ed., From Frege to Wittgenstein: Essays on Early Analytic Philosophy (O.U.P.) 2002, 283–307.

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"The New Wittgenstein: a Critique,"European Journal of Philosophy, December 2001, 9: 3, 375–404.

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"Logical Syntax in the Tractatus," in Richard Gaskin, ed., Grammar in Early Twentieth-Century Philosophy (Routledge), 2001.

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Curriculum Vitae


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