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The Functions of Russell’s No Class Theory
The Review of Symbolic Logic (2010)
  • Kevin C. Klement, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Certain commentators on Russell’s “no class” theory, in which apparent reference to classes or sets is eliminated using higher-order quantification, including W. V. Quine and (recently) Scott Soames, have doubted its success, noting the obscurity of Russell’s understanding of so-called “propositional functions.” These critics allege that realist readings of propositional functions fail to avoid commitment to classes or sets (or something equally problematic), and that nominalist readings fail to meet the demands placed on classes by mathematics. I show that Russell did thoroughly explore these issues, and had good reasons for rejecting accounts of propositional functions as extralinguistic entities. I argue in favor of a reading taking propositional functions to be nothing over and above open formulas which addresses many such worries, and in particular, does not interpret Russell as reducing classes to language.

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Citation Information
Kevin C. Klement. "The Functions of Russell’s No Class Theory" The Review of Symbolic Logic Vol. 3 Iss. 4 (2010)
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