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The Claims of Common Sense
Moore, Wittgenstein, Keynes and the Social Sciences


  • Date Published: August 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521039581

$ 45.99

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About the Authors
  • The Claims of Common Sense investigates the importance of ideas developed by Cambridge philosophers between the World Wars for the social sciences concerning common sense, vague concepts and ordinary language. John Coates examines the thought of Moore, Ramsey, Wittgenstein and Keynes, and traces their common drift away from early beliefs about the need for precise concepts and a canonical notation in analysis. He argues that Keynes borrowed from Wittgenstein and Ramsey their reappraisal of vague concepts, and developed the novel argument that when analysing something as complex as social reality, theory might be simplified by using concepts which lack sharp boundaries. Coates then contrasts this conclusion with the view shared by two contemporary philosophical paradigms - formal semantics and Continental post-structuralism - that the vagueness of ordinary language inevitably leads to interpretive indeterminacy. Developing a link between Cambridge philosophy and work on complexity, vague predicates and fuzzy logic, he argues that Wittgenstein's and Keynes's ideas on the economy of ordinary language present a mediating route for the social sciences between these philosophical paradigms.

    • Looks at the development of Keynes with biographical information
    • Account of key period in development of twentieth-century philosophy
    • Broad readership in social science as well as philosophy: book is exceptionally clearly written, and author started life as an economist
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521039581
    • length: 196 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 152 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.302kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A short history of common sense
    2. Ideal languages and vague concepts: the transition in Cambridge philosophy
    3. Keynes and Moore's common sense
    4. Keynes's later views on vagueness and definition
    5. Samples, generalizations and ideal types
    6. The Cambridge philosophical community
    Conclusion: complexity, vagueness and rhetoric

  • Author

    John Coates

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