, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 1023–1042 | Cite as

Assertability Conditions and the Investigations

  • Nicoletta BartunekEmail author


Later Wittgenstein is famous for having related meaning and use. Nonetheless, thanks to Dummett and Kripke, and the debates they provoked, a conventional wisdom is nowadays available: Wittgenstein, so the story goes, adopted a theory of meaning in terms of assertability conditions. This paper claims that it is wrong to attribute such a theory to the Investigations. For such a thesis to go through, one of the following two scenarios should be confirmed. It should either be true that Wittgenstein reduces all meaning-engendering uses and conditions of use to assertion and assertability conditions, or that he invokes assertability conditions to show that meaning is always use. But, I will be claiming, the first scenario is excluded by Wittgenstein’s thoughts about the role of assertion and his thoughts about the sense-force distinction, while the second scenario is excluded by Wittgenstein’s thoughts about truth.


Wittgenstein Philosophical investigations Assertability conditions Dummett Kripke 



I am grateful to Diego Marconi, Matteo Nascé and Purdel Răzvan for all their help and support. I have benefited greatly from their attentive reading and subsequent discussions of my drafts. I am also thankful to the two anonymous reviewers of this paper whose suggestions helped improve and clarify this manuscript.


  1. Albritton, R. (1959). On Wittgenstein’s Use of the term “Criterion.”. The Journal of Philosophy, 56, 845–857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, G. P. (1986). Criteria: A new Foundation for Semantics. In S. Shanker (Ed.), Ludwig Wittgenstein: Critical assessments. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  3. Baker, G. P., & Hacker, P. M. S. (1984). On misunderstanding Wittgenstein: Kripke’s Private Language Argument. Synthese, 58, 407–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker, G. P., & Hacker, P. M. S. (1990). Malcolm on language and rules. Philosophy, 65, 167–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartunek, N. (2017). Truth in the investigations. Synthese.
  6. Byrne, A. (1996). On Misinterpreting Kripke’s Wittgenstein. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 56(2), 339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Canfield, J. V. (1981). Wittgenstein, language and world. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  8. Canfield, J. V. (1996). The community view. Philosophical Review, 105(4), 469–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crary, A. (2000). Introduction. In A. Crary, & R. Read (Eds.), The New Wittgenstein (pp. 1–11). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Dummett, M. (1959). Truth. In Dummett (1978), Truth and Other Enigmas (pp. 1–25). Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dummett, M. (1963). Realism. In Dummett (1978), Truth and Other Enigmas (pp. 145–165). Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Dummett, M. (1991). The logical basis of metaphysics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Garver, N. (1962). Wittgenstein on Criteria. In C. D. Rollins (Ed.), Knowledge and experience (pp. 55–87). Pittsburg: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  14. Hacker, P. M. S. (1972). Insight and illusion: Wittgenstein on philosophy and the metaphysics of Eperience. London: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hacker, P. M. S. (1986). Insight and illusion: Themes in the philosophy of Wittgenstein (2nd revised edition). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  16. Horwich, P. (2016). Wittgenstein on Truth. Argumenta, 2, 95–105.Google Scholar
  17. Kenny, A. (1967). Criterion. In P. Edwards (Ed.), The encyclopedia of philosophy (pp. 258–261). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  18. Kenny, A. (1973). Wittgenstein. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kripke, S. A. (1972). Naming and Necessity. In Naming and necessity. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kripke, S. (1982). Wittgenstein on rules and private language: An elementary exposition. Oxford: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kusch, M. (2006). A Sceptical guide to meaning and rules: Defending Kripke’s Wittgenstein. Chesham: Acumen.Google Scholar
  22. Malcolm, N. (1989). Wittgenstein on language and rules. Philosophy, 64(88), 5–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McDowell, J. (1984). Wittgenstein on following a rule. Synthese, 58, 325–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McDowell, J. (1998). Mind, value and reality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. McGinn, C. (1984). Wittgenstein on Meaning. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  26. Stenius, E. (1967). Mood and language-game. Synthese, 17, 254–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stroud, B. (2002). Understanding human knowledge: Philosophical essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Williams, M. (2010). Blind obedience: The structure and content of Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Wilson, G. M. (1998). Semantic realism and Kripke’s Wittgenstein. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 58, 99–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Winch, P. G. (1983). Critical study: Facts and superfacts. The Philosophical Quarterly, 33(133), 398–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wittgenstein, L. (1961). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.Google Scholar
  32. Wittgenstein, L. (1969). The Blue and the Brown Books. D. F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness (Trans.). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Google Scholar
  33. Wittgenstein, L. (1974). Philosophical Grammar. R. Rhees (Ed.), A. Kenny (Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  34. Wittgenstein, L. (1984). Notebooks 1914–1916. G.E.M. Anscombe, and G. H. von Wright (Eds.), G. E. M. Anscombe (Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  35. Wittgenstein, L. (2010). Philosophical Investigations. P. M. S. Hacker, and J. Schulte (Eds.), P. M. S. Hacker, and J. Schulte (Trans.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  36. Wright, C. (1982). Anti-realist semantics: The role of criteria. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 13, 225–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wright, C. (2001). Rails to infinity. Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Educational SciencesUniversity of TurinTurinItaly

Personalised recommendations