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Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World$
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Kenneth L. Pearce

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790334

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790334.001.0001

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Rules and Rule‐Following

Rules and Rule‐Following

Chapter:
(p.67) 4 Rules and Rule‐Following
Source:
Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World
Author(s):

Kenneth L. Pearce

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790334.003.0005

Rules and rule-following play a foundational role in Berkeley’s philosophy, yet Berkeley never offers an explicit theory of these phenomena. This chapter pulls together Berkeley’s scattered remarks on these topics to explain how Berkeley thinks about them. In particular, it is argued that Berkeley holds that it is possible to follow rules without being able to state them and that we can be mistaken about what rules we are following. Rule-following does require a kind of understanding or know-how, but this is often not articulable. It is further argued that, according to Berkeley, both language and inference depend on the following of rules that have the status of public conventions. Berkeley thus endorses a form of formalism, not only about mathematics, but about all forms of inference.

Keywords:   George Berkeley, rule-following, philosophy of language, formalism, philosophy of mathematics, inference

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