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Winch on Following a Rule: A Wittgensteinian Critique of Oakeshott

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Peter Winch famously critiqued Michael Oakeshott's view of human conduct. He argued that Oakeshott had missed the fact that truly human conduct is conduct that 'follows a rule.' This paper argues that, as is sometimes the case with Oakeshott, what seems, on the surface, to be a disagreement with another, somewhat compatible thinker about a matter of detail in some social theory in fact turns out to point to a deeper philosophical divide. In particular, I contend, Winch, as typical of those who only picked up on Oakeshott's work in the 1940s and 1950s, when Oakeshott became known for his critique of rationalism, failed to understand the idealist metaphysics underlying that critique.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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