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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In 1924 Bertrand Russell described each of his earlier definition of numbers as equivalence classes, his theory of definite descriptions, the ‘no-classes’ theory of classes, and his more recent construction of matter from sense-data as all being examples of one method in philosophy. He described these logical constructions variously as ‘incomplete symbols’, ‘logical fictions’, and as ‘really nothing’. Russell also describes his ‘multiple relation’ theory of judgment as though propositions are also logical constructions. This chapter describes various features of these different constructions, arguing that Russell himself did not clearly distinguish several different features that he attributes to them, and which are not all characteristic of all logical constructions. The later influence of Russell’s notion of logical construction was influential for many later analytic philosophers, providing the model for logical analysis of ordinary language, explication, structuralist accounts of science and ontological reduction in the thinking of Wittgenstein, Ramsey, Wisdom, Carnap, and Quine.

Keywords: Bertrand Russell, logical constructions, analysis, definite descriptions, multiple relation theory, classes, definition of number, sense data, construction of matter, acquaintance

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