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Edmund Dain


Photo of faculty memberAssociate Professor

Contact Information:
St. Catherine of Siena Hall 139


Ph.D. - Cardiff University

Area(s) of Expertise:

My research focuses on the interpretation and application of Wittgenstein’s philosophy in connection with a range of problems in Ethics and Metaethics, Epistemology, Philosophical Anthropology, Philosophy of Language, and Philosophy of Mind and Psychology. I also have a long-standing interest in Ancient Greek thought and literature. My current work focuses on the following three main projects. (1) Wittgenstein: My work on Wittgenstein aims to think through the implications of Wittgenstein’s central insight into the nature of philosophical problems, and his disavowal of philosophical theories or theses in favor of description — description of the uses of words, and of the ways in which philosophical problems arise from our confusions about the uses of words. My aim throughout is therefore to present a picture of Wittgenstein that is undogmatic in the way that he constantly sought to be. The picture that emerges is one that stands in contrast to the picture of Wittgenstein that is familiar from much of the secondary literature, where he is presented precisely as having held certain dogmatic theses about language, meaning, and the mind, for instance. My aim is therefore also to counteract that picture of Wittgenstein, and in doing so to show the uniqueness of his thought, and the promise it still holds out to us in our attempts to overcome philosophical confusion. (2) Ethics: My work on ethics aims to rethink the possibilities open to ethics and ethical thought through Wittgenstein’s work. I argue that Wittgenstein’s claim that there can be no ethical propositions follows directly from the widely held view, familiar at least since Plato, that value is not arbitrary, and I show how in Wittgenstein’s work this claim leads to a radical rethinking of what ethics itself involves. Ethics, for Wittgenstein, like logic, is not a separate subject matter of a subset of propositions. It is, rather, internal to propositions. (3) The Mind: My work on the mind focuses on a range of interrelated problems concerning the nature of the mind, our concept of a human being, and our knowledge of other minds. I argue for conception of the mind and the human being that gives a central role to our attitudes, conceived in terms of our basic modes of response, in constituting those concepts, and I use that conception as a means of undermining the traditional problem of other minds. Moreover, I argue that we can, in many cases, simply perceive - see, or hear, or even feel - others’ mental states.

Awards and Honors:

Leif Eiriksson Research Fellowship - Research Council of Norway/University of Bergen (2014)
Editor, "Ludwig Wittgenstein" leaf category - PhilPapers (2013-)
Werner and Elizabeth Leinfeller Award for Best Paper - Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society (2012)

Selected Publications:

Dain, Edmund. (2018). Wittgenstein's Moral Thought.

Dain, Edmund., Agam-Segal, Reshef. (2018). Wittgenstein's Moral Thought. London and New York: Routledge.

Dain, Edmund. (2016). Do we believe in other minds?. Contributions of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society39, 45-47.

Dain, Edmund. (2015). Review of Chon Tejedor, The Early Wittgenstein on Metaphysics, Natural Science, Language and Value. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews,

Dain, Edmund. (2014). Eliminating Ethics: Wittgenstein, Ethics, and the Limits of Sense. Philosophical Topics42 (2), 1-12.

Dain, Edmund. (2012). Ethical Eliminativism and the Sense of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Contributions of the Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society35, 49-50.

Dain, Edmund. (2012). Projection and Pretence in Ethics. Philosophical Papers41 (2), 180-208.

Dain, Edmund., Conant, James. (2011). Throwing the Baby Out. Routledge.

Recent Presentations:

Dain, Edmund., 7th Regional Wittgenstein Workshop, Morgantown, WV, "Wittgenstein and Mindreading". October, 2016.

Dain, Edmund., 39th International Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria, "Do we believe in other minds?". August, 2016.

Dain, Edmund., Xth National / VIIth International Wittgenstein Symposium: Wittgenstein, Knowledge and Skepticism, University of Campinas, Brazil, "An Attitude towards a Soul: Wittgenstein on Belief in Other Minds". October, 2015.

Dain, Edmund., A Science of the Soul? Philosophy, Ethics, & the Mind, University of Helsinki, Finland, "An Attitude Towards a Soul: Wittgenstein, Other Minds, and the Mind". October, 2014.

Dain, Edmund., University of Bergen, Norway, "Ethics Without Propositions". May, 2014.

Dain, Edmund., The Wittgenstein Workshop, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, "Eliminating Ethics". October, 2013.

Dain, Edmund., Communication Breakdowns in Philosophy, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Study, University of Helsinki, Finland, "Communication Breakdowns: A Response". May, 2013.

Dain, Edmund., The Importance of Ordinary Language Philosophy, Nordic Wittgenstein Society, Abo Akademi, Turku, Finland, "The Normativities of Meaning". May, 2013.

Dain, Edmund., Wittgenstein in Relation to Philosophical Traditions, Lichtenberg Kolleg, University of Goettingen, Germany, "Wittgenstein, Ethics, and the Limits of Sense". May, 2013.

Dain, Edmund., 35th International Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium , Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, Kirchberg am Wechsel, Austria, "Ethical Eliminativism and the Sense of Wittgenstein's Tractatus". August, 2012.

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