Logical Atomism in Russell’s Later Works

  • Gülberk Koç Maclean
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


The question I will discuss in this paper is whether and in what sense Bertrand Russell’s later works such as Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (1940) and Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (1948) are logical atomist. Even though logical atomism is preserved as a research method in Russell’s later metaphysical and epistemological works, I will show that logical atomism as a metaphysical thesis is not preserved for the following reasons: (1) In Russell’s later work, the atoms of reality do not include particulars, whereas it is essential to the logical atomist metaphysics that there are unrepeatable atoms as ultimate kinds of reality. (2) The metaphysical structure of simple facts is that universal qualities are in compresence relations; the logical atomist metaphysics, however, requires a metaphysical structure whereby particulars exemplify universal qualities and relations. (3) Furthermore, the metaphysical structure of reality is a causal structure. In contrast, the logical atomist metaphysics requires that the structure of reality is a logical structure. (4) Finally, there are no logical facts in Russell’s later works. The logical atomist ontology, on the other hand, posits logical facts to correspond to true negative propositions, general propositions, and existential propositions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gülberk Koç Maclean
    • 1
  1. 1.Mount Royal UniversitySW CalgaryCanada

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