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Wittgenstein Explains the House Rules Committee

By Matthew Yglesias on March 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm

"Wittgenstein Explains the House Rules Committee"


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Some people have been wondering how it is that the House Rules Committee can just make up whatever rules it wants. Fortunately, Wittgenstein tackled this question in his famous Philosophical Investigations:

What do I call ‘The rule according to which he proceeds’?— The hypothesis that satisfactorily describes his use of words, which we observe; or the rule which he looks up when he uses signs; or the one which he gives us in reply if we ask him what his rule is? — But what if observation does not clearly reveal any rule, and the question brings none to light? — For he did indeed give me an explanation when I asked him what he meant by “N”, but he was prepared to withdraw this explanation and alter it. — So how am I to determine the rule according to which he is playing? He does not know it himself. — Or, more correctly, what is left for the expression “the rule according to which he proceeeds” to say?

Something for Daniel Foster to chew on.

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