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russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies n.s. 38 (summer 2018): 89–96 The Bertrand Russell Research Centre, McMaster U. issn 0036–01631; online 1913–8032 c:\users\arlene\documents\rj\type3801\red\rj 3801 050 red.docx 2018-07-30 2:56 PM oeviews A HISTORICALLY INFORMED DEFENCE OF THE MULTIPLE-RELATION THEORY OF JUDGMENT Landon D. C. Elkind Philosophy / U. of Iowa Iowa City, ia 52242, usa dcelkind@gmail.com Samuel Lebens. Bertrand Russell and the Nature of Propositions: a History and Defense of the Multiple Relation Theory of Judgement. New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. xi, 296. us$140. isbn: 978-1-138-73745-7. n his book Lebens discusses the history of Russell’s much-maligned multiple -relation theory of judgment (mrtj); he also defends a mrtj (p. 1).1 The book is well written. It gives clear arguments. It interweaves seamlessly historical and ongoing controversies within unified narratives. For these reasons a close study of Lebens’ book will richly reward scholars interested either in Russell’s mrtj or in the metaphysics of meaning. His book stands out for its detailed attempt to trace the origins of mrtj through Russell’s pre-Principia writings. I recommend Lebens’ book to the attention of readers of Russell. Lebens’ book is framed around the need for “an account of the metaphysics of meaning” (p. 6). His defence of his mrtj focuses on mrtj’s suitableness as giving a metaphysics of meaning. To grasp his book, one must understand why Lebens thinks we need a metaphysics of meaning.2 And to grasp his book’s significance for Russell’s scholarship, it is vital to understand whether and in what sense Russell also thought we need a metaphysics of meaning, and whether he deployed mrtj to give us a metaphysics of meaning. Lebens understands “metaphysics of meaning” in terms of eleven roles that propositions play (pp. 2–4). Propositions are sometimes said, for example, to be truth-bearers; they are sometimes said to be the common content of different 1 It is important to distinguish Lebens’ mrtj from Russell’s mrtj, and to distinguish both of these from a mrtj in general. Where context does not indicate which is meant, I will use, say, “Lebens’ mrtj”. 2 “In order to understand Mr. Wittgenstein’s book, it is necessary to realize what is the problem with which he is concerned” (“Introduction to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” [1921]; Papers 9: 101). f= 90 Reviews c:\users\arlene\documents\rj\type3801\red\rj 3801 050 red.docx 2018-07-30 2:56 PM sentences, like “snow is white” and “Schnee ist weiß”; they are sometimes said to be the objects of propositional attitudes; and so on. Lebens’ book starts from the claim that at least some of the eleven roles that propositions play “represent genuine explananda” (p. 6). That is, at least some of these roles demand a metaphysical explanation of what it is to play these various roles: “I want to know what it means for a sentence to mean something. I want a metaphysics of meaning” (p. 6). Lebens undertakes this work of giving a metaphysics of meaning; he believes mrtj is well-suited to that work (p. 18). Now, Russell’s mrtj is a no-propositions theory of propositions, that is, an account “of ” propositions on which there are no propositions as entities (p. 1). And yet rejecting propositions as entities does not thereby eliminate the need to offer a metaphysical explanation of the eleven roles Lebens describes (p. 6). Lebens for his part feels the need for a metaphysical explanation despite the fact that he, like the Russell of mrtj, rejects propositions as entities. Lebens believes Russell likewise felt this need. Lebens writes: [mrtj] was Bertrand Russell’s attempt to give an account of propositions—i.e., an explanation of the 11 explananda of §1 (or most of them)—without incurring ontological commitment to propositions. […] [mrtj] takes the metaphysical task of a theory of propositions seriously, and doesn’t desert the undertaking. … (Pp. 17–18) Contrary to Lebens, I do not believe Russell had this problem in mind when devising the mrtj. First, supposing that giving a...

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