Deflatlonism and the true colours of necessity in Wittgenstein's Tractatus

José Medina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper articulates a deflationary interpretation of the notions of meaning and necessity in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. This interpretation is developed through a new account of the so-called color-exclusion problem and of why the formalism of the Tractatus fails to solve it. According to my analysis, this failure calls into question whether the limits of the sayable and the thinkable can be drawn from within language and thought by means of a purely formal logical analysis. I argue that the lesson to learn from the color-exclusion problem concerns the limitations of a formal logical analysis of language in eliminating the philosophical mythologies formed around the notions of meaning and necessity, and more generally the limitations of formalism as a deflationary strategy in philosophy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-385
Number of pages29
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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