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Entertaining Unhappiness

For some time, sound film has been both the most popular and the most realistic medium for public representations of the world. Good screenwriters and directors know how to exploit this potential for realism. The result is films that are uniquely educational, because they are realistic representations of aspects of the world that can rarely, if ever, be so reflectively experienced in real life. This essay extracts, and explains, valuable reflections on happiness from Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.

For Craig Fox and Britt Harrison, eds, Philosophy of Film Without Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)

Real Names

Thinking about anything requires representation, which (in turn) requires reference; failure to refer to something entails failure to represent it. Names are components of linguistic representation whose apparent function is non-indexical reference, that is, reference that works largely independently of any particular context or occasion of utterance. From a philosophical point of view, names quickly give rise to paradox. For example, logical analysis may appear to show that the names of ordinary language never fulfil any referential function at all—or, perhaps, only ever fulfil such a function indirectly—so that even ordinary names (‘Ludwig’, ‘Saul’, etc.) may appear not to be ‘real’ names. But it may equally seem that most linguistic symbols—if not all—actually function as names. Both possibilities give rise to paradoxes. Epistemic progress is often made by first finding something paradoxical and later discovering it to be true. As it happens, there is a good amount of truth in each of these paradoxes, but this truth is not well expressed in a paradox about names. This essay explains, first, how these paradoxes may arise, and how they did in fact arise with the seminal works of Frege and Russell; it then shows how to resolve these paradoxes, whilst preserving the lessons from Frege and Russell and further combining them with ones from Kripke’s Naming and Necessity and Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. The essay shows that Kripke and Wittgenstein are largely in agreement on all essential points, including rigid designation and what constitutes meaning and reference—so that the standard historical narrative, according to which Wittgenstein tried to kill metaphysics and Kripke revived it, becomes at the very least questionable.

For an edited volume

by Martin Gustafsson, Oskari Kuusela and Jakub Mácha

[On the Communication of Complex Thought]

[Please feel free to request a draft copy.]

Under review for publication

by a general philosophy journal

[Exemplary Intuitiveness]

[To view the abstract, please download the file below.]

Under review for publication

by a general philosophy journal

[Paradox]

[To view the abstract, please download the file below.]

Under review for publication

by a general philosophy journal

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