Reflections on Necessity and Normativity in Wittgenstein: A Philosophical Investigation into ‘the Must’ in Ethics and Mathematics.

Project Details


Wittgenstein is mainly known for contributing to the philosophy of language, but he also made some interesting remarks on ethics throughout his work.
However, these are scarce and dense, which has led scholars to conclude that if they are to allow for an account of his (meta)ethical thought this should be done in concordance with the rest of his work. Yet, despite Wittgenstein’s own suggestions, few have tried to do so using his remarks on mathematics.
This is interesting as, past 1929, Wittgenstein remained almost silent on the topic of necessity and normativity in ethics; a topic profusely addressed in his remarks on mathematics. Distinctive to his take on necessity and normativity, laid out there, was an avoidance of both Platonistic and Empiricistic reductionism.

Now, the relationship between ethics and mathematics has in itself become a topic of interest; though confined to a Platonistic framework. Hence, the concerned scholars claim that mathematical and ethical statements refer to mind-independent properties. This position is not unproblematic. My aim is therefore to inquire (1) into the relationship between Wittgenstein’s thoughts on ethics and mathematics concerning necessity and normativity, (2) whether his thoughts on mathematics can contribute to an account of ethical necessity and normativity, and (3) whether his thoughts on ethics and mathematics can contribute to a critical account of the Platonistic take on the relationship between those two domains
Effective start/end date1/11/2031/10/24

Flemish discipline codes

  • Philosophy of mathematics
  • Philosophy of language
  • Analytical philosophy
  • Philosophy not elsewhere classified
  • Metaethics


  • Metaethic
  • Philosophy of Mathematics,
  • Wittgenstein