Was wittgenstein a liberal philosopher?

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The question of whether Wittgenstein was a liberal philosopher has received less attention than the question of whether he was a conservative philosopher but, as Robert Greenleaf Brice has recently argued, there are hints of liberalism in some of his remarks, and some philosophers, like Richard Eldridge, have argued that a kind of liberalism follows from Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Richard Rorty has also drawn liberal conclusions from a philosophical viewpoint which draws on Wittgenstein's work and Alice Crary has suggested that the lessons learned from her own interpretation of Wittgenstein are "reflected in forms of social life that embody the ideals of liberal democracy". Here I will argue both that Wittgenstein was not a liberal and that his philosophy does not imply a liberal viewpoint. The authors discussed here do not demonstrate that any broad ideological conclusions follow from Wittgenstein's philosophical remarks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-82
Number of pages26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Brice
  • Crary
  • Eldridge
  • Liberal Democracy
  • Liberalism
  • Rorty
  • Wittgenstein


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