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Wittgenstein, Kripkenstein, and the skeptical paradox

University of Florida Institutional Repository
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PAGE 1

WITTGENSTEI N, KRIPKENSTEI N, AND THE SKEPTICAL PARADOX By JO N HE NDR IX A TH ES IS P RE SE NTE D TO THE GRA DUA TE S CHO OL OF THE UNIVE RSITY OF FL ORIDA I N PARTIAL FULFI LL MENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSI TY OF FLOI RDA 2007

PAGE 2

TABL E OF CONT ENTS ABSTRACT ......................................................................................................................3 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTI ON .........5 2 WITTGENSTEI N ON MEANING, UND ERSTANDING, AND RUL ES ......14 Live and Dead Signs ...................14 Meaning as Use ...............................................................................................20 The Langua ge-Game Analo gy ........................................................................21 Ostensive Definitions ......................................................................................25 Understanding .................................................................................................32 Rule-Following ...............................................................................................37 3 KRIPKES WITTGE NSTEIN AND THE PHILOSOP HICAL INVE STIGATIO NS .......................................................40 The Skeptical Paradox ....................................................................................41 Problems with the Skeptical Paradox Interpretation ......................................45 The Skeptical Solution ...................................................................................49 Problems with the Skeptical Solution Interpretation .....................................53 Concluding Remarks ......................................................................................57 4 SOLUTI ONS TO KRIPKES SKEPTI CAL PARADOX: NON-FACTUALI SM, REDUCTIONI SM, AND NON -REDUCTI ONI SM ............................................................................59 Kripkes Skeptical Solution, Revisited ..........................................................60 Dispositio nalism ............................................................................................64 Non-Redu ctive Ac counts ...............................................................................69 5 CONCLUDI NG REMARKS ...............................................................................75 LI ST OF REFERENCES .................................................................................................78 BIO GRAPHI CAL SK ETCH ............................................................................................80

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of F lorida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirem ents for the Deg ree of M aster of Arts WITTGENSTEI N, KRIPKENSTEI N, AND THE SKEPTICAL PARADOX By Jon Hendrix May 2007 Chair: Kir k Ludw ig Major: Philosophy Saul Kripke, in his work Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language presents an interpre tation of L udwig Witt genste ins Philosophical Investigations whereb y Witt genste in is taken to b e offer ing a pa radox with r espect t o langu age. T he para dox, acco rding to Kripke, stems from the nonexistence of facts which establish claims about what a speake r meant by a pa rticular term on a given occasion, and threate ns the very possibility or rule-following and languag e. Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as offering a solution to this problem that rejects truth-conditional sem ant ics and in it s pl ace est abl is hes a th eor y foc usi ng o n co ndi ti ons of w arr ant ed a ss ert io n. In this thesis, it is argued that Kripkes interpretation of Wittgenstein is incorrect. Examination of the text of the Philosophical Investigations reveal s a muc h more compl icate d view of lan guage than Kripke offers, and certain passa ges conflict directly with the interpretation given. This thesis, in addition to the exegetical question of the appropriateness of Kripkes interpretation, is also concerned with the skeptical challeng e posed in Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language Kripke s skeptic al solution to this prob lem is examin ed and fo und wanti ng in several respects. Once the notion of war ranted assertion is spelled out in terms of communal agreement, it becomes clear that Kripke has not answered the skeptic at all, as claims about

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meaning entail claims about correct use, a nd communal agreement, a statistical notion, cannot ground such claims. Having found the skeptica l solution un satisfac tory the thes is focuse s on direc t answer s to the skept ic, wher eby certain typ es of fa ct are s ubmitted a s meaning -fixing f acts. The most popular of these answers are those which c ite a speakers dispositions to behave with respect to a given w ord in hy pothetic al situati ons. Ther e are se veral di ffere nt varie ties of dis positiona lism, and the mo st promine nt are di scussed. It is c ontended that Saul K ripkes objectio ns to disposition alism are correc t, and tha t no versi on of dispo sitionalis m can ser ve as an a nswer to the skeptic. Dispositionalism is an attempt to reduce semantic facts to behavioral facts. The que stion is raised as to why this is nece ssary. I t is suggested that there is no prima faci e reason to think that semantic or normative facts are unsuitable as answe rs to Kripkes skeptic, and several objections to non-reductionism are considered and rejec ted. While a fully developed nonreductive theory is beyond the scope of this thesis, some groundwork is done, paving the way for su ch a t he or y.

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1 Augustine, Confessions, I.8 as recounted in L udwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investig ations 1 footnote 1. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTI ON In 1 of the Philosophical Investigations Wit tgenst ein pr esent s an acc ount of lan guage drawn from a passage of St. Aug ustine = s Confessions In this passage, Aug ustine recounts how he learned the meaning of words a s a child: When they (my elders) named som e object and ac cording ly moved towards something, I saw this and I graspe d that the thing was call ed by the sound t hey uttered when the y me ant to poin t it out. Their intention w as shewn by t heir bodi ly mo vements, as it were the natural languag e of all peoples: the expression of the face, the play of the e yes, the movement of othe r parts of the body and the to ne of v oice w hich e xpre sses o ur sta te of m ind i n seek ing, having, rejecting, or avoiding something. Thus, as I hear d words repeatedly used in their proper places in various sentences, I gradually leant to understand what objects they signified; and after I ha d traine d my mouth to fo rm these s igns, I used them to express my o wn desire s. 1 This acc ount has tw o importan t featur es. The f irst is tha t words ar e used to n ame obje cts. If this alone is the function of a word, the n it would seem that the meaning of that word is the object named. Meaningfulness in gene ral, according to this account, is a matter of a word picking out some ob ject. The second f eature is that the learnin g and te aching of a lang uage is done ostensively. Under standing of a word rests on observation of its use by competent speakers of the language, or on a more direct method of explanation, exemplified by pointing towards the inten d obj ect and utter ing A This is called > x . That the first feature of the Augustinian ac count has been found in the writings of other philosophe rs subseq uent to Au gustine includin g the ea rly Wittgenst ein, testi fies to its appeal.

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2 Indeed, in the summary of part I, 19 of Philosophical Grammar Wittgenstein writes A My earlier concept of meaning originate s in a primitive philosophy of langua ge. Augustine on the learning of languag e. He describes a calculus of our lang uage, only not everything that we call lang uage is this calc ulus. @ 3 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Lo gico-Phi losophicu s. New York, 1974, 3.203. 4 Ibid., 4.22. 5 This fig ure come s from Robe rt Fog elin = s Wittg enstein One can see this in the picture theory in the Tractatus 2 Wittgenst ein asse rts that A simple sig ns have as their meanings the objects that they name. 3 According to the Tractatus, the world is made up of facts: states of affairs which obtain. States of a ffairs are combinations of objects, and are represented by propositions, whose structures are isomorphic to the states of affairs that they represent (and so propositions are facts as we ll, namely, the fac t that their constituents are arrang ed in a ce rtain wa y) Words con stitute the elements of a prop osition, a nd name th e object s in the re levant sta te of af fairs, f or which they are the counter parts. 4 There is some departure from the Augustinian account in the Tractatus to be sure. While Wittgenstein takes most of our words to have as their meaning the objects that they name, he points out that certain words do not seem to name anything Logical oper ators that appear in propositions, for example, don = t represent any object in the world But the se are e xceptiona l. The Tractatus presents a theory which is much more sophisticated than the account given in 1. It was, however, de veloped under some of the same presuppositions about languag e found in the prim itive acc ount. One of Wittge nstein = s goals in the Investigations is to examine these presuppositions and to expose their failings. The first fifth of the Investigations is dedica ted to this task. 5 In addition to challenging these presuppositions, Wittgenstein has a positive goal, that of offering sugg estions that will allow philosophers to properly orient their thinking with respect

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to language. I n particular, he seeks to dissolve problems that arise from misconceived notions of meani ng and u nders tandi ng. The notion that a word = s meaning is the obje ct that it p icks out r ests on a o verly simplistic view of the variety of roles that words can play in a language. I n 1, Wittgenstein remarks that the Aug ustinian a ccount do esn = t take into account the variety of words, but rather focuses on nouns, names, and to some extent properties. If one c onsiders proper names, then it is easy to see how this vie w is motiva ted. Acc ording t o a direc t-refe rence t heory a prope r name pi cks out a unique object, and if a proper name could be said to have a meaning, then it seems sensible that the mean ing just is the objec t that it na mes. With a l ittle work the view could be e xtended to apply to reg ular nouns and adjectives, with the latter being trea ted as the names of properties, for example. If, h owever one con siders a ll the diff erent ki nds of wor ds that ar e found in langua ge, it becomes difficult to maintain this account. Wittgenstein illustrates this in 1 of the Investigations with the grocery -list example. Imagine a g rocer who is handed a slip on which the words five red apples has been written. The grocer opens the apple dra wer, consults a color chart to match the apples, and counts from one to five, taking an apple out for each number. The various acts that the grocer per forms relevant to the different words is supposed to show the differe nces bet ween the typ es of wor ds in quest ion. The w ord app le may be used to pick out a pa rt ic ul ar typ e o f o bj ec t, bu t t he wo rd f iv e do es n t s ee m t o b e u se d i n t he sa me wa y. Having located what he believes to be the pr imary misunderstanding motivating the account of meaning that he attributes to Aug ustine, namely, that all words func tion as proper names, Witt genste in prese nts an alte rnative He conn ects mea ning with use. Mea ningful ness in gener al is havin g a use and the m eaning of a par ticular w ord is gi ven by the way that the w ord is

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6 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations Oxford, 1953, 31. used. Of course, not just any use of a word is relevant. Any theory of mea ning must account for correc t and inco rrect u sage. Mere re gulari ties in the way that word s are use d do not ne cessar ily reveal correct usag e. They show only how words are, in fact, used. Statements about reg ularities only describe w ord use, they do not pre scribe. The implication of this is that there must be rules that are to be obey ed in orde r for a u se of a w ord to be c orrect Rules, un like mere regula rities, are pre scriptive and as su ch are c apable o f groun ding the notion of c orrect ness and i ncorre ctness with respect to the application of words. The use of a word in a languag e, then, is a rule-governed ac tivity. With this consideration in mind, Wittg enstein d raws an analog y be tween la nguag e use and play ing che ss. 6 Here, the chess pieces correspond with words, and meaning s correspond with the rules governing the appropriate moves of the pieces. This analog y is useful, but one should not take it too far. The rules governing the use of an individual che ss piece are fairly circumscribed, and the variety of chess pie ces is not great The rule s gover ning the use of ind ividual wo rds, howe ver, ar e likely to be much more complex, allowing for a much gre ater number of A moves @ that one can make. The variety of words exceeds t he rathe r modest v ariety of chess pieces. Neverth eless, th e chess analog y, t hough pe rhaps ove r simple, i s helpful in unders tanding the view o f langu age in Wittgenst ein = s later w orks. L angua ge is lik e a ga me. L angua ge, like games, is an act ivity pursued according to certain rule s, rules which are not imposed upon it from without, but are rather the const ructs of the commu nity of play ers. Und erstand ing a la nguag e is similar to understanding chess: as the latter is exhibited in the play ing of the game, the former is exhibited in the speaking of the languag e.

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To say that meaning is connected with rule-governed use is not striking ly illuminating. A host of questions arise from such a characterization. What exactly counts as a rule? What does participation in a rule-governed ac tivity consist in? What is involved in understanding the demands of a rule? Wittgenstein dedicates a significant portion of the Investigations from around 143' 242, to questions such as these. Clearly, if one is to have a firm grasp of Wittgenst ein = s thoughts on meaning, one must attend to these sections with care. One of the goals of this thesis and arg uably the most dif ficult to a ccomplish will be to examine the se sections with the a im of arr iving at a clear view of Wit tgenste in = s position on the nature of rules and rule following and how t hese ar e relate d to the pos sibility of meani ng. To pr eview wh at will follow: I t will be a rgued that when Wittgenst ein spea ks of rule s, he ref ers to sta tements g iven to justify explain, o r teach certain behavior Unders tanding which ac tions coun t as being in accordance with a rule, ac cording to Wittgenstein, is the ability to eng age in certain normative behavior (such as the afor emention ed acts o f justific ation, expl anation, and teac hing) w ith respect to a rule. Saul Kripke = s interpr etation o f Wittgen stein = s often cryptic r emarks on rule-following have become the focus of an intense scr utiny over the past two dec ades. According to Kripke, Wittgenstein was presenting a skeptical para dox regarding languag e. Not much work is done by Kripke in attempting to justify this rea ding of Wittgenstein, but the first sentence of 201 of the Investigations is specif ically singled out: A This was our paradox: no course of action could be determined by a rule, because any course of action can be made out to acc ord with the rule. @ It is possible, of course, to understand a rule, but to make a mistake as to what the r ule requires in a given situation. What is being suggested her e, and in earlier passages of the Investigations is more radical than this rather pedestrian observa tion. One might be inclined to think that a given

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rule can be applied or misapplied to a given situation. Correc t application of a rule implies the existence of an inte rpreta tion of the rule whic h determ ines whic h actions accord with it. Thi s interpretation, though, runs into the same problem, and seems to require a further interpretation, which itself stands in need of an interpretation, and so on ad infinitum Wittgenstein gives an example in 185 which can be of some help in illustrating this. A student of arithmetic has been given a task of wr iting a series of numbers, starting from 0, and increasing by 2 at every step. He performs the task well up to 1000, upon which he procee ds by writi ng A 1004, 1008, 1012, Y@ One is inclined to say that the student misunderstood the rule by which he was supposed to act. Yet it can also be said that he proc eeded according to the rule a s he interpreted it. The student was ordered to proce ed by the rule A Add 2 to the previous number in the ser ies, @ but interp reted th e rule a s A Add 2 to the previous number in the series up to 1000, and add 4 following that. @ So the stude nt, in proc eeding by a dding 4 a fter 100 0, was ac ting in accord ance wi th the rule that inter preted. This case can be g eneral ized: eve ry action c an be sai d to accord with some rule under some interpretation. This threate ns the distinction between correc t and inco rrect w ay s of resp onding to rules. Th e conce pts of cor rectne ss and inc orrect ness rest on the notion of an act being in accord or disaccord with a rule, but if the example of 185 shows tha t any action c an be in a ccord w ith a rule then any act can be consid ered co rrect. Furthermore, if any action can be in accord with a rule upon some interpr etation, then any a ct can simila rly be said to violate a rule upon some inter pretatio n. It g ets worse : for if me aning is connected with rule-governed use but the notion of acting in accordance with a r ule is hollow (as the a bove examp le attemp ts to show) then it wo uld seem th at the co ncept of meaning itself is unintelligible.

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7 Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982, p.55. 8 Ibid., p.9. It is considerations such as these that Kripke sees as indicating that Wittgenstein was presenting a skeptical paradox with respect to meaning In the third section of his book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language he write s There can be no such thing as mea ning any thing by any word. Each new application we make is a leap in the da rk; any pre sent intention could be interpreted so as to accord with any thing we may choose to do. So ther e can be neither accord nor con flict. 7 Though Kripke does little to show that Wittgenstein truly had this paradox in mind when he wrote the Investigations he does offer some independent reasons for thinking that a paradox of this sort exists. It comes in the form of a challenge from a skeptic regarding the past and present use of the word > plus = The reader is asked to assume that though he ha s used the word > plus = and the sy mbol > + = many times in the past, he h as never perfor med any computat ions with numbers larger than 57. When asked to compute > 68+57 = he respo nds that th e answe r is > 125 = The skep tic chall enges this answe r, and cl aims that t he corr ect res ponse is > 5 = The ske ptic clai ms that in the past, > plus = and > + = were used not to denote the function plus, but rather, the function quus. Kripke = s skeptic defines quus as fo llows: x r y = x + y if x y < 57 = 5 otherwise. 8 By hy pothesis, every a ction that was undertaken in the past in which > plus = or > + = was used is compatible with the person = s having meant quus instead of plus. The question is whether any fac t can be found that establishes that the answer of > 125 = to the problem given is the right one. The skeptic c laims that no fact, behavior al or men tal, abou t the past u sage o f these te rms can be f ound to est ablish tha t one mea nt plus ra ther tha n quus, or that > 125 = is indeed the right

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9 Ibid., p.62. answer to > 68+57 = Kripke sees the upshot of t his as dev astating : A Wittgenst ein = s main pro blem is that it appears that he has shown all language, all concept formation, to be impossible, indeed unintelligible. 9 Of course, any argument that purports to show that languag e is impossible will be selfrefuting. Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as offe ring a solution to the skeptic, but a solution which grants the skept ic = s prem ise. A ccordi ng to Kr ipke, Witt genste in den ies th e exi stenc e of mea ningfixing fa cts. He is able to r eject the skeptic = s conc lusi on bec ause h e rejec ts a pi cture o f langu age according to which claims about meaning have truth-conditions, that is, admit of evaluation as true or f alse. The re are no facts which mak e true c laims of th e sort A S meant m by > w =@ but this does not show that language is impossible. Two important questions emerge from this. First, is Kripke right in thinking tha t Wittgenstein presents a skeptical paradox in the Investigations ? As Kripke drew from Wittgenst ein = s comments on rulefollowing a study of sectio ns 143' 242 should help illuminate this question. Again, as a preview, I will contend that though Wittgenstein does attempt to show that there is a problem with a particular view of what it is to follow a rule, that he does n ot prese nt the ske ptical pa radox Krip ke descr ibes. The second q uestion to consider is whether Kripke = s skeptic al solution to the pro blem, con sidered independ ently of wheth er it is properly a ttributable to Wittgenstein, is tenable. Once this solution is spelled out, I will argue that it is not a satisfactory answe r to the skeptic. Finally, I will consider alternative answers to the skeptic. One of the most common responses is to offer up facts about the dispositions of a speaker, or the dispositions of a select group of speakers, as those which esta blish the meaning of a term. Such a strategy is reductive,

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insofar as it is an a ttempt to g round sem antic or normative facts a nd explain t hem by refer ence to purely natura listic facts about behavior. There are seve ral versions of dispositionalism, each attempting to identify a pa rticular sort of disposition as the meaning-fixing one. I will argue that none of the more prominent versions succeed, and that no ver sion can answer the skeptic. However, the failure of Kripke = s response as well as that of the reductivist should not lead to an adoption of skepticism. In chapter 4, I suggest a fourth way of responding that is non-reductive and denie s both the s keptic = s premises and his conclusion.

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CHAPTER 2 WITTGENSTEI N ON MEANING, UND ERSTANDING, AND RUL ES The purp ose of thi s chapte r is to dev elop a be tter unde rstandin g of Wittg enstein = s views on meaning, understanding, and rulefollowing, in the hopes that this will provide the ammunition for an attack on Kripke = s interpretation of the Investigations Getting clear on Wittgenst ein = s comments on meaning and understanding is essential for unde rstanding his views on privat e langu ages a nd rules. Of parti cular imp ortance are Wittg enstein = s claims that a word = s meaning is connected with its use, and that understanding is a practice rather than a mental state. In wh at follow s, I w ill elabor ate on the se claims and the r easons f or holding them. Live and De ad Signs In the first few pag es of The Blue Book and in 432 of the Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein asks what it is that distinguishes the A live @ signs of language f rom the A dead @ signs that are found in na ture. A si gn is an o bject ch aracte rized by its A shape @ broadly spea king. Signs inclu de suc h thi ngs as w ritt en symbol s, so unds, and ges tures amon g other thin gs. The re are s ign types and sig n tokens, and tokens of a particular ty pe can be either live or dead. Sign ty pes are neither. Live signs are me aningful; they are those signs that humans use to communicate with one another. These signs possess certain fea tures that those not produced by linguistic beings lack, featur es which are ess ential to t heir use in communic ation. Whe ther or n ot a sign is A live @ or A dead @ is not intri nsic to the sign itse lf. Two sig n tokens of the same typ e, one of which is produced by a human, and the other by a natural process, can differ in re spect to whether they mean anything The scribblings of a colleague on a bit of paper having the appear ance

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1 Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue Book. New York, 1960 p. 3. Stop are tak en to b e meani ngful w hen ha nded t o a pers on di strac tedly tap ping h is foo t duri ng a tedious ph ilosophy lecture To be pr ecise, t his sign w ould be ta ken as a c ommand tha t he cea se his foot-tapping. On the other hand, the marks in a patch of sa nd made by a tra veling snail which have the exact same appearance while quite extraordinary, would not be ta ken as an indication that the sn ail meant for some one to stop doing so mething or mean t any thing at all. The s igns, two t okens of the same t ype, diff er wit h resp ect to wheth er or no t they mea n anythin g. Though evidently there must be some property that living signs have that dead signs lack, characterizing the property is a difficult task. The fact that meaningful signs a re produced exclusively by creatures with mental lives, or by entities standing proxy for minded cr eatures (translation devices, video and audio projectors, teleg raph machines, e.g.) may lead one to think that a sign is meaningful only if its use is accompanied by traceable to, or produces some special sort of me ntal acti vity such as un derstan ding or m eaning Wittgen stein anti cipates this suggestion: It seems that there are certain d efinite processes bound up with the working of languag e, processes through which alone lang uage can function. I mean the proce sses of understanding and meaning. The signs of our lang uage s eem dea d without th ese ment al proce sses; and it might sem that the only func tion of the signs is to induce such processes, and that these are the thing s we ought really to be interested in. Thus, if you ar e asked what is the relation between a name and the thing it names, y ou will be inclined to answer that the rela tion is a psy cholog ical one and per haps whe n yo u say this you think in particular of the me chanism of association. 1 If th is view is c orrect then the propert y th at disting uishes live signs fr om dead on es is that of being accompanied by (in one way or another) a special mental process. For the word

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2 I have borrowe d the distinction between interpretative and expressive uses from Alan Millar = s article A The No rmati vity of M eanin g, @ Philosophy: The Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, vol. 51 p.57-73. The distinction is intended to capture both passive and active uses of a word, where the user is a A listener @ and a A speaker @ respectively > red = to be meaningful, then, for example, it would have to be the case that whenever it is uttered, the speaker has a certain mental state, pe rhaps that of picturing the color red to himself, and anyone who unde rstands the sign likewise has that mental state. Wittgenstein challenges this picture of meaning a nd understanding by asking the reader to suppose that the mental process is replaced by a similar outward process. Inste ad of someone imagining the color red, suppose he consults a c olor chart whenever he is called upon to use (be the use interpretive or expressive 2 ), the word > red = (for the purposes of this thought experiment, a consultation should be taken as consisting exclusively of outward behavior, such as the movement of a fing er acr oss the ch art from the sy mbol > red = to a color patch). This doesn = t have the intuiti ve forc e of the o rigina l example f rom the pr evious pa ragra ph. I t doesn = t seem that the outward act of consulting the chart ac companying the utterance suffices to make the word be ing used meaningful. Consulting a color chart just following the utterance of the word > red = explained in purely behaviora l terms, is to be the sort of activity that a we ll-programed robot (something that is generally thought not to be capable of understanding) could do. Wittgenst ein = s comments on this are a sketchy ; some interpretative work is required. The origin al tho ught wa s that some m ental proces s whic h coex isted with an utt erance o r a sign served to make that utterance or sign mea ningful. Wittgenstein then suggests that outward processe s be substitu ted for me ntal ones :

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3 Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue Book. New York, 1960 p. 4. 4 Ibid., p.5. 5 Ibid. There is one way of avoiding at least partly the occult appearance of the processes of thinking, and it is, to replace in these pr ocesses any working of the ima ginatio n by acts of lo oking a t real ob jects 3 Shortly following this passag e, he shifts and speaks of a substitution of the objects of th es e p ro ce ss es s pe ci fi ca ll y pa in te d i ma ge s a nd me nt al im ag es re sp ec ti ve ly: If the mea ning o f the s ign Y is an image built up in our minds when we see o r hear t he sign, then firs t let us ado pt the meth od we just described of replacing this mental imag e by some outwar d object seen, e.g. a p ainte d or mo deled image 4 Presumab ly, he felt th at the ac tions involv ed were similar e nough to justify this shift in focus from processes to objects, that the only relevant difference betwe en imagining a color and picking out a color patch on a chart wa s the type of imag e involved. Whether this move is in fact warranted or not is debatable. For now, this conc ern should be put aside in favor of getting c lear on other a spects of Wittgenst ein = s reasoning in this matter. In The Blue Book Wittgenstein claims that a painted image fails to A impart any life to the sentence @ 5 that it ac companie s. This vie w can be fleshed out as fol lows. A sw atch of r ed is not, on its own, meaning ful. I t may be used in communic ation, ce rtainly but in any instance where it is, there is some feature of the context which makes it meaningful. I n this way, the swatch ha s the same status as a word divo rced fr om whatev er prope rty makes it me aningf ul; it is, in sh ort, dead. Substituting the swatch for a mental image ha s the effect of placing on it the burden of making the utterance of the word > red = meaning ful, and t his, acc ording t o the view in questio n, is something that a dead sign cannot do.

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Under th e view in q uestion ( allowing for Wittg enstein = s focus on the object rather than the act), a mental image is capable of conferring meaning. The question is what feature of a mental ima ge gi ves it this a bility If a dead sig n lacks th is ability perhap s the menta l image is itself a live sign. Its being live could not be the result of coexisting with another mental image as that would result in a regress, for that additional mental imag e would either be live or dead, and if dead of no use, and if alive itself requiring, by the same argument, some distinct associated mental image, and so on. I nstead, this life would have to be something intrinsic to the mental image, and somet hing ca pable of giving life to de ad signs (though how it doe s this is not a t all clear). Wittgenstein rejects this line of thinking. To say that mental objects have this ability but to be unable to say how, or to give any in-depth explanation of it, would be to attribute to mental objects A occult @ properties. The Augustinian account Wittgenstein discusses in 1 may fall pre y to the char ge that in appeals to such occult properties. Recall that the centra l feature of this account was that words function as names of objects; for a word to have a me aning, is for it to name something. The relation ship betwe en a name and the th ing name d must be ma de explicit and Wittg enstein = s focus on A mentalist ic @ accounts of understanding and meaning in the opening pages of The Blue Book indicate that he be lieves tha t this rela tionship is u sually taken to b e psy cholog ical. Meaning, in the Augustinian sense, would, if the above c onsiderations are correct, involve a mental process which cannot fully be explained. Any ac count involving essential but mysterious elements is, of course, at a serious disadvantage all else being equal, in comparison to an account involving elements whose natures are entirely explicable. Another approach is needed. Wittgenst ein reje cts the po ssibility that eithe r an outw ard proc ess or a m ental pr ocess accompanying a word can make the word meaning ful. He concludes that the mistake is to think

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6 For further discussion of the influence of the Aug ustinian account on these thinkers, see G.P. Baker and M.S. Hacker Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning Part I : Essays. Oxford, 2005, pp. 19-28. 7 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophi cal Inve stigations. Oxford, 1953, 3. 8 See the grocer = s list example in 1 for an illustration of what this might look like. that anything accompa nyi ng a wor d makes it m eaning ful. The A ugustini an acco unt seems to labor und er this mis taken ide a, and so should be v iewed a s suspect Here c an be see n the firs t hints that Wi ttgenst ein = s account of meaning won = t t ur n o ut to be ve ry t id y. In the preceding chapter, another deficiency of the Augustinian account was noted. The central topic of the first dozen or so passages of the Philosophical Investigations is the rejection of the oversimplified view that a word = s meaning is the object that it names. This view has proven seductive. It ca n be found in the works of Frege, Russell, and the early Wittgenste in, among o thers. 6 The ob jecti on to this view i s not that i t is f alse t hat wo rds na me obj ects ( thou gh not in the sense of naming found in the Tractatus in which a word stands for the object it names in a representation whose structure is isomorphic with a possible state of aff airs), but rather, that such a ch aracte rization do esn = t accurately reflect the complexity of na tural language. Augustine, we might say does describe a sy stem of communic ation; only not ever yth ing that we call l angua ge is thi s system. And one has to say this in many cases wher e the question arises A Is thi s an appr opriate descrip tion or not ? @ The answ er is: A Yes, it is appropriate, but only for this narrowly circ umscribed region, not for the whole of what y ou were claiming to describe. @ 7 Of cour se, if Wittg enstein = s comments from The Blue Book are any indication, Augustine = s account still suffers from the mistaken idea that a mental process must ac company the use of a word in order f or the wo rd to be me aningf ul. The c omments he re, thoug h, seem to presuppo se that a n accou nt of namin g has be en found which re quires no such acc ompanime nt. 8

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9 Ibid., 14. 10 Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue a nd Brown Bo oks. Oxford, 1958, p.4. Naming then, is a perfec tly l egitima te use of a word. I t is not, how ever, th e only legitimate use. Impera tives, interrogatives, color-terms and logic al connectives don = t seem to name any thing unl ess one is to posit a v ery rich onto logy Yet eve n if one w ere to do so, to describ e these w ords as na ming var ious objec ts would be to obscur e the ver y di ffere nt way s in which they ar e used. In 11, Wi ttge nstei n com pare s the c orpu s of w ords to too ls in a toolbox, and the va riety of funct ions of wo rds to the variety of funct ions of the tools within He writ es: Imagine someone = s say ing: A All tool s serv e to mo dify som ethin g. Thus a hammer modifies the position of a nail, a saw the shape of a board, and so on. @ And wha t is modifie d by a rule, a glue-p ot, and nails? A Our knowledge of a thing = s length, the temperature of the g lue, and t he so lidit y o f a bo x. @ Would anything be g ained by this assimil ation of e xpressions ? 9 Saying A All tools serve to modify something @ is aki n to s aying A all words name somet hing, @ in that impo rtant dif ferenc es among the rele vant body of thing s are g lossed ove r in an attempt to provide a uniform characterization which, in the end, is quite uninformative. Meaning as Use What is needed is an account of meaning that respe cts the variety of functions that words may have. The emphasis that Wittgenstein gives to this points the way to the desired account: the meaning of a wor d is deter mined by the use th at word h as in commu nication This is expl icitly stated in the opening pages of The Blue Book : A But if we had to name any thing which is the life of the sig n, we shou ld have to say that it wa s its use @ 10 It is implied in the discussion of the grocer = s list in 1, with the introduction of the notion of a language-g ame in 7, is made explicit in the discussion of ostensive definitions of 30: A an ostensive definition explains the use the

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meaning of a word when the over all role of the word in language is clear, @ and once again (though with a bit of caution) in 43: A For a large class of cases though not for all in which we employ the wor d A meaning @ it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. @ The use o f a word can be se en as the behavior that occ urs befo re, duri ng, and after it s utterance. Consider the primitive language introduced in 2. One might be inclined to view the sparse vocabulary of this language ( > block = > pillar = > slab = > beam = ) as consisting of the names of objects. This seems appropriate as within the context in which languag e is employed, there are four ty pes of obj ects ass ociated with the us e of eac h of the f our word s. In thinking of these words as names of objects, though, one would ignore a crucial feature of their use: they function exclusive ly a s command s. The mas ter builde r calls ou t one of th e words w hen he wi shes his assistant to bring him the co rrespon ding ston e. The a ssistant, u pon hear ing the m aster c all out, selects a stone from the appropriate stack, and de livers it to the master. The actions of the master involving each word, and the assistant = s reactions to those, constitute the use in this language of those words. Meaning is thus tied to a practice which occ urs over time a word cannot have a meaning outside of any such practice. Wittgenstein thus has the makings of an answ er to the question posed at the outset of this chapter: a live sign is one which has a role in the activities of those who employ it. There must be a r egular ity i n the use o f a word for it to be meaning ful. The Language-Game Analogy In his l ater wr itin gs, Wi ttgens tein d evelo ped an analo gy compari ng the u se of l anguage to playing a game. He calls the activity in 2 betwee n the maste r carpe nter and his assista nt a language-g ame. While it is billed as a complete primitive language, it is also a practice that occurs in complex natural languages. Thoug h this account is a bit simplified, the game that the

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11 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophi cal Inve stigations. Oxford, 1953, 497. master a nd the ass istant pla ys i s one of ma ny d iffere nt ty pes of ac tivities tha t can be f ound in language. I n calling this activity a g ame, Wittgenstein is making a number of sugg estions about the way a language works. When one plays a g ame, one has to abide by certain rules in order to be said to play the game correctly Not just any move in chess is appropr iate; one cannot, for example, move a rook diagon ally and be sa id to play ing che ss proper ly. So too with la nguag e. While me aning is connected with use, not just any use of a word is correct. For ther e to be correctness and incorre ctness in word usa ge, the re must be rules of word-us age, a nd confo rmity to those r ules is a necessary condition for proper use. The rules of a game are conventional insofar as they are the products of those who play the games; the same is true for lang uage. The rules gover ning word-usage and sente nce formation are not imposed from outside of the sy stem. This idea is explicitly addressed in a later section of the Philosophical Investigations : A The rules of grammar may be called A arbitrary @ if that is to mean that the aim of grammar is nothing but that of the langua ge. @ 11 This view of the nature o f the rule s of lang uage r eprese nts a sig nifican t chang e in Wittge nstein = s though t from his Tractarian day s, when he was inclined to believe that the rules of lang uage were imposed from without the rules of language we re the rules of logic. The diversity that one f inds when one considers the different ty pes of games is mirrored in the dive rsity in the var ious func tions of la nguag e. I n his comme nts on fam ily r esembla nces, Wittgenst ein rema rks that th ere is no set of fe atures, nor any one fea ture tha t is common t o all games. Presumably he means that if one were to attempt to give an e xplanation for the concept of a ga me, one c ould not re spond by say ing that A A game necessarily has such-and-such

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12 To borrow a phrase from Nelson Goodman in The Structure of Appearance. 2 nd ed., Cambridge, 1966. 13 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations Oxford, 1953, 66. features @ or A anything w hich has such-and-such features is a g ame. @ Now, it isn = t at all obvious that a co nsidera tion of the concep t > game = fails to y ield nec essary condition s some characteristic or charac teristics common to all games. Games, it seems, must be rule-gove rned activities. Anything whic h is not an activity cannot be a game, and it is difficult to conceive of a game completely lacking in rules. Consider a child play ing with blocks, but with no eye f or building a stable structure. The child picks up pieces, stacks some, throw s others, and puts others still in his mouth. Surely the child is play ing, but is he playing a game ? It is not c lear tha t he is. Wittgenst ein does n ot go to g reat len gths to de fend this view of g ames, g iving no e xplicit examples o f a gam e which is not rulegover ned. Per haps he d oesn = t need to. It mig ht suffic e to say that g ames are not, in fact, identified as such in virtue of being rule-governed activities (for this seems to be a bit too vague of a criterion for most speake rs), and that if pressed, a speaker will be una ble to cite those fe atures in virtue of which he makes his determin ations. Assuming that Wittg enstein is correc t in his view about fa mily -resemb lance c oncepts, any attempt to establish necessa ry and suff icient co nditions fo r such co ncepts w ould arbi trarily exclude certain instances from consideration that should be included in the conc ept = s extension. What is bein g sugg ested is th at the se t of all g ames for ms an imper fect co mmunity 12 a A complica ted netwo rk of simil arities o verlapp ing and criss-c rossing : sometime s overal l similariti es, somet imes simila rities of detail. @ 13 The same, he thinks, can be said of languag e. One cannot give necessary and sufficient conditions for what counts as a linguistic activity The various functions of language a re too disparate and resist such an easy classification.

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If the concept of a game has indeterminate boundaries, then it might see m that the term > game = lacks a fixed meaning, and this lack is not the result of the superficial fe atures of language, but rather, the result of indeterminacy in the rules governing the use of the ter m. When one uses t he term > game = one is not acting in accor dance w ith a rule of the fo rm A Apply the term > game = to al l a nd on ly t ho se th in gs wh ic h h av e s uc han dsu ch fe at ur es ne ce ss ar il y. @ Whatever the rule governing the use of the w ord > game = looks like, it must reflect the indeterminate boundaries of the co ncept. To press the point a bit further, consider a potential definition of the word > game = as a rule-g overned activity If t his defin ition wer e to be suc cessful then the rules g overning the use of the word would seem to leave no room for ambiguity : the word > game = should be a pplied to only those activities which are rule-governed. However if Wittgenstein is correct, then no such definition can be given. The A complicated network of similarities @ doesn = t admit of a n analy tic definition, and the rules governing usag e must reflect this complexity. Wittgenst ein doesn = t think that the inability to give an ana lytic definition of the word > game = nor the inability to give a list of rules strictly determining the correct use of the word, threatens one = s ability to understand the word. Ne ither is one = s ability to explain the meaning of the word threatened; a definition in terms of necessar y and sufficie nt conditions is not required, ra th er a ll on e n ee ds to do is to po in t o ut ex am pl es an d s ay A These are ga mes. @ Fo r f am il yresembla nce con cept-te rms, osten sive def initions ca n serve t o explain th e use of t he term. This is possible insofar as the members of a linguistic community agree in matters of classification and gener alization. That a spe aker is u nable to s pecify the netwo rk of simil arities t hat unite s certa in things un der one c oncept do es not impin ge upon his ability to classif y c ertain th ings tha t fall under that concept, for having bee n trained in the use of terms through example, and

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14 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophi cal Inve stigations. Oxford, 1953, 219. participating in what Wittgenstein calls a A shared form of life @ with the me mbers of his community he will f ollow the r ules for the use of words A blindly @ without making a conscious decision to behave in this way rather than that 14 Wittgenst ein doesn = t make clear exactly how prevalent he believes family -resemblance concepts to be. Due to the rather benign a ppearance of the concepts of la nguage and g ame, one might thin k that man y e very day concep ts might tu rn out to la ck any essentia l featur es, despi te the fac t that they have be en give n (or peo ple have attempte d to give them) an aly tic defin itions in the past. If it turns out th at many of the co ncepts ta ken to hav e fixed bou ndaries are, in f act, family-rese mblance concepts, then many words will not admit of analytic def inition. Ostensive Definitions While Wittg enstein d oesn = t clai m that there i s any one fo rm tha t the r ules o f word -usage must take, the inabi lity to give a naly tic defin itions for family -resemb lance c oncept te rms indicate s that oste nsive def initions ca n play an importa nt role in t eaching and explai ning the use of words By examining some of Witt genste in = s comments on ostensive definitions, it should be possible to draw out his view on the nature of rules in genera l. For those terms expr essing f amily -resemb lance c oncepts, pointing to examples can help establish correct usage of the ter m. As indicated in the last section, for this form of explanation to work, a certain degree of agreement amongst member s of a linguistic community is require d. For an in dividual w ho did not f ind our wa y of classify ing thing s under th e conce pt game natural ostensive definitions would likely fail. This should not be too troubling, though, a s any acc ount of lang uage p resuppos es a cer tain deg ree of a greem ent among speaker s.

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15 Wittgenstein indicates at several points that an explanation of a word = s use ser ves as a rule for that word = s use. Cf. The Blue Book p. 12 (an ostensive definition is a A rule o f the u sage of the word @ and in 30 of the Philosophi cal Inve stigations (an ostensive definition A explains the use the meaning of a word Y @ ). An ostens ive explan ation nee d not be suf ficient f or explain ing the u se of only those words for which an analy tic definition might be found wanting. I n 28, Wittge nstein g ives a partial l ist of the t ype s of word s for whic h an osten sive def inition ca n be giv en: A a proper name, the name of a colour, the name of a mater ial, a numeral, the name of a point of the compass, and so on. @ Numerals, the names of materials, and the points of the compass don = t seem to r esemble family -resemb lance te rms thei r applic ation re quires c ertain sp ecifiab le nece ssary condition s. Neverth eless, it i s Wittgens tein = s beli ef that not o nly can su ch term s be ex plain ed thr ough ostension, but that explanations of this sort are in no way defic ient or subordinate to more formal types of explanation. This view can be found in 28, just following the passage quoted above: A The definition of the number two, A That is called > two =@ pointing to two nuts is perfe ctly exact. @ When one e xplains the u se of a w ord, one gives a sentenc e (or a n umber of sentenc es) which is in tended to show those circumst ances in which it is correc t to use the word. Thi s sen ten ce s erv es a s a r ul e fo r th e us e of th e wo rd. An o st ens iv e ex pl ana ti on i s no di ffe ren t. In ex pl ai ni ng th e u se of a w or d, sa y > game, = by means of pointing to a number of examples and saying A This is a game, @ one has expressed a rule for correc t usage of the word. 15 This is not to say that an os tensive d efinition is the form that the rules for word-usage ta ke. The use of words for geometric shapes, mathematical ope rations, and the like words which can be give n strict definitions in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions could be explained in alternative ways, and p erhaps more t radit ional rules are nece ssary for c losi ng up t hose ga ps lef t in l anguage

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by ostensive definitions. Yet in many cases, ostensive definitions serve perfectly well as rule for the use of words. As Wittgenstein takes the concept of a rule to be a fa mily-resemblance concept, it stands to reason that there is no one form that rules must have. Yet ostensive def initions can function as rules for word usage in a g reat number of cases, more than perha ps was traditionally thought, a s indicate d by Wittgenst ein = s claims that things such as numerals can be defined in this manner. As a matte r of pra ctice, o stensive explanatio ns are often g iven for words, a nd it is con ceivabl e that this may be the only explanation that a speaker has ever been g iven and the only one tha t he is in a posit ion to giv e in resp onse to a r equest. It might be denied that an ostensive de finition is capable of filling the role that Wittgenstein assigns to it. An ostensive definition, one might claim, leaves too much unspecified in that appealing to a finite number of samples in explaining a word = s use does n = t provide a rule by which the cor rectness of a word = s application in every conceivable instance can be judg ed. This worr y c an be re ad in at le ast two wa ys. In g iving an ostensive explanatio n, only a finite number of samples can be appealed to. Ther e may be a n inclination to say that the rule so g iven specifies that the word properly applies to only those objects specific ally refe rred to. This type of reactio n would re sult from t aking th e stateme nts used in the explan ation (i.e severa l stateme nts of the fo rm A This is F @ ) to be describing the objects in question. If these statements wer e descrip tive, the n indeed, they would not b e capab le of pla yin g a role in express ing a ru le gover ning the use of the word in c ases bey ond those a lready mentione d. If one points to object s x 1 x 2 x 3 and x 4 and says about e ach A This is red, @ as a way of describing some feature of e ach, this doesn = t justify say ing of ob ject x 5 that it is red. This is because a description has no normative import; a true statement describing one object as be ing a certain way has no bearing

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16 Cf. Baker and Hacker, Wittg enstein: Understa nding and M eaning, P art I Oxford, 1980, p.89-90. on the truth-value of a statement describing a se cond object as being that way a descriptive statemen t of the fo rm A This is red, @ when indi cating a firetruck, c annot est ablish the correc tness of saying A That is red @ when indicating any distinct object (the truth value of the second statement is established independently of the first). However, this is not what happens when one gives an ostensive definition. One is not describing some fea ture of an object, but rather establishing which type of thing it is correct to apply a word to. 16 Ostensive definitions are used in such nor mative ac tivities su ch as tea ching a nd justify ing, the y sh ould not be seen as m erely describing certain entities as being a certain way but as prescribing correct ling uistic behavior. Agains t this clai m it might b e charg ed that a n ostensiv e defini tion isn = t the sort of thing that can accomplish such a task that it is a category mistake to think of an ostensive definition as having a normat ive compo nent. At b est, an os tensive d efinition gives sa mples fro m which a r ule governing the use of a wor d can be deduced, but the definition itself fails to function as a rule. Certainly, an ostensive de finition does not have the form that is usually expected of a rule. If, however, the concept of a rule is a fa mily-resemblance concept, then this is not too damning of a charge. Moreo ver, i t woul d seem that, for Wi ttgens tein, devel opin g rules is it self a langua ge game. A rule is the ty pe of thing that can be appealed to for justification as to why a word w as used in a particular way used to explain to a novice how a word is properly used, and to serve as an instrument of evaluation regarding particular instances. An ostensive definition can do any of these things, and thus seems to have a role in the ga me of giving rules for word-usa ge. The sec ond way of read ing the a bove wor ry gains a bit more tr action, b ut is, in Wittgenst ein = s view, based on a misconception about languag e, one that has already been

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17 Bob Hale A RuleFollo wing, O bject ivit y, and Mean ing, @ A Companion to the Philosophy of Language Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds., Oxford, 1997, p.369. discussed, and one that Wittgenstein himself fell prey to in his early y ears. One may grant that an ostensive definitio n provide s a standa rd of cor rectne ss in many cases ( i.e., tha t it is not limit ed to those instances involved in the definition itself), but that it still leaves many possible case s unacco unted for Think of Wittgenst ein = s example in volving t he disapp earing chair f rom 80. A plausible ostensive definition for the word > chair = would invo lve only those obje cts with a certain degree of temporal perma nence. If a person came across a A chair @ that repeatedly disappeared and reappeared, one might be at a loss to say whether or not the thing was properly called a chair. Normally chairs don = t behave in such a manner and none of those involved in the explanation of the word > chair = did. So the r ule that h e had be en opera ting ac cording to in his use of the word didn = t cover this contingency or many others. B ut can this be seen as a serious flaw in the rule? In every day circ umstances, the rule functions as it should, serving as a standard of correctness and guiding the be havior of speakers. Only in bizarre hypothetical c ircumstances do worries arise. So the rules that are available ma y not determine the c orrectness of using the term in every possible ca se, but they should not be seen a s deficient as a result since they do determin e corre ct uses in actual c ircumsta nces. One who claimed that this indeterminacy was a flaw would be operating under a view of language where by linguistic rules ar e akin to (or identical to) the rules of logic in that they rigidly dete rmine what is and is not appropriate in every situation. Bob Hale, paraphrasing Wittgenst ein, cha racter ized the vie w as follo ws: A following a rule a rule for the use of a word, say is a matt er of tra veling a long ra ils which a re alre ady laid down and dete rmine its application in new cases Y @ 17 It is a gainst t his view th at Wittge nstein = s c om me nt s o n f am il y-

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resembla nce con cepts an d proper names ar e direc ted. The fact tha t a conce pt like tha t of a ga me may have va gue bor ders doe s not count agains t the usef ulness of family -resemb lance c oncepts. Similarly, the fact that the rules f or word-usage which come in the for m of ostensive definitions don = t determi ne for e very conceiv able cir cumstanc e how the word is to b e applie d doesn = t mean that such rules are useless, or even imperfe ct and serve only to stand proxy for some hidden, determinate rule. The ana logy betwee n langu age a nd a ga me aga in proves useful in highlig hting som e common misconceptions about language. I n 84, the reader is asked to imagine a g ame A that is every where b ounded by rules. @ Even a very extensive set of deterministic rules could admit of some doubt, if one was willing to exert one = s imagination. One could develop further rules (one s which g overned the orig inal set) that remo ved this do ubt, but ev en the expa nded set w ould concei vably adm it of s ome fu rther doubt if on e were i nclin ed to p ress t he iss ue. On e coul d go on raising doubts for any set of rules, no matter how extensive and determinate, without end. So, in terms of there being conceivable situations for w hich the rules of word-usage do not apply the problem of indeterminacy is not one restricted to language, or to the ty pes of rules for wordusage (specifically ostensive definitions). No game, nor any rule-governed activity is immune to doubt in this sense a sufficiently cle ver person could come up with a scenario not cover ed by the rules. This is not to say that every rule-governed activity is in some sense problematic. As Wittgenstein remarks in 84, just because someone could imagine a doubt that by passes the rules does not mean that those who engage in the activity are in doubt. Just because one can imagine something having the appearanc e of a chair which blinks in and out of his vision, which the rules do not deal with, does not mean that normal people don = t fully understa nd what A chair @ means, or that the p ractice of callin g thing s by this name i s somehow defect ive. The rules tha t are av ailable

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for the use of the word > chair = are perfectly satisfactory f or those situations that do in fact commonly obtain. Ostensive definitions admit of misinterpretation. For example, one might not know exactly what fea ture of an object is being indicated in the definition. This is considered in 28: a listener may witness a n ostensiv e defini tion involv ing a g esture to wards tw o nuts and t he phras e A That is called > two =@ and take > two = to be the n ame of th e partic ular pai r of nuts b eing po inted to (rather than understand that what is being c onveyed is that the number of the nuts is called > two = ). The rule would have been misinterpreted, and the subsequent behavior of the listener would reflect this. Yet as was just discussed, the possibility of misinterpretation is not something unique to ostensive definitions any rule can be misinterpreted. Yet this does raise an interesting point. I n cases w here a l istener m isinterpr ets a rule a furth er rule is neces sary to corre ct him. This could be done by pointing to more objects with the right feature (say being two of something) and say ing while gesturing to eac h A This is called > two = and This is called > two = and This is called > two =@ and so on. While as a p ractica l matter th is extending of the de finition w ould li kel y suf fic e, i t i s ce rta in ly co nce iv abl e th at a per son cou ld st il l m is in ter pre t t he r ul e gi ven In such a context, a definition might be required specify ing exactly wha t feature it is to which the wo rd is in te nd ed to ap pl y. O ne mi gh t s ay A This number of things is called > two = @ This presupposes that the listener already has a grasp of the concept of a number a presupposition that existed in the original definition given. For it is only if a person grasps the concept of number will the definition involving the phrase A This is called > two =@ have the right impact. What this shows is that ostensive definitions rules for word usage do not stand alone. They require a prior und erstand ing of di ffere nt aspec ts of lang uage. They do not prov ide an exit f rom the c ircle of words, that is, a direct nexus between languag e and the world.

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18 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophi cal Inve stigations. Oxford, 1953, 149 notes (a) and (b). Understa nding At the outs et of this c hapter, Wittgenst ein = s rejection of the characterization of meaning (by which meani ng was t aken t o be a m ental state ) was d iscus sed. T he sect ions follo wing 143 of the Investigations are ded ica ted to th e re jec ti on o f th is cha rac ter iz ati on o f un der st and in g. If one focuses on the performance of a student as the measure of understanding, it is clear tha t one is unable to say that, from a solitary perfor mance which is in keeping with the dictates of the ru le t he st ud en t u nd er st an ds th e r ul e. Hi s p er fo rm an ce ma y on ly a cc id en ta ll y A match up @ with the rule and so a teache r would ne ed to obse rve othe r perfo rmance s before satisfy ing himse lf that the student understood. Yet it seems that no clear point can be established at which the student = s perfor mances c an be sai d to consti tute unde rstandin g (invit ing a sor ites para dox). This may incline a pe rson to reject the link between understanding and pe rformance, and instead adopt the view that understa nding is a mental sta te, one th at give s rise to th e approp riate performances. This view has some intuitive force, as unde rstanding often seems to happen all at once, lik e an awa kening of sorts the dawn ing of a n intellec tual gr asp of som e thing. This consideration does not seem to be compatible with the view that understanding is a ma tter of practice. In response to this, Wittgenstein makes only the briefest of remarks. I n 148/9, he asks whether understa nding is t he ty pe of thin g that c omes and g oes whe ther one understa nds only when attending to a rule. Wittgenstein is pressing the idea that mental states have the characteristic of being limited in duration. This is obvious when one considers state s such as pain and pleasure. 18 If this sugge stion is right, and furthermore, if understanding is a menta l

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19 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophi cal Inve stigations. Oxford, 1953, 149 state, then understanding is similar to having sensations of pain and plea sure. Intuitively though, this is suspe ct. Unde rstandin g isn = t necessarily the type of thing tha t, once had, is alway s had. Debilitating injuries can result in a person failing to under stand something that they onc e did, and of course, there is forge tfulness. But these cases are notable for their effects, indicating that our notion of understanding is not of a transient mental state. I t is assumed that a person understa nds rules say those go verning addition, even he is not cons ciously attendin g to them whereas (and this is not without controversy ) pain and pleasure are not taken to last bey ond a person = s consciousness of them. The denial of the stability of understanding would have the result that one A comes to understand @ every time he is c alled upo n to apply it, and this seems wrong. As a way to sa lvage this view, one might posit the existence of unconscious mental states. T his would g rant some stability to unders tanding insofar as a per son could b e said to understand a rule even when not consciously attending to it, say while a ttending to something else, or while sle eping. Worries a rise, how ever, w hen atte mpting to charac terize the se unconscious mental states. One option is an appeal to A a state of a mental apparatus (perha ps of the brain) by me ans of which we explain the manifestations of that knowledge. @ 19 The mental apparatus might be cashed out in neurophy siological terms, and the state in question can be seen as one that causes the person to behave in a ce rtain way. I n the case of understanding a rule, the state would be the one which causes the person to act in ac cordance with the rule in the right circumst ances. A nother w ay of putting this would b e to say that unde rstandin g a rule consists in being in a phy sical state which gives rise to a behavioral disposition.

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Wittgenst ein objec ts to calli ng the st ate of a mental ap paratus a mental state, as there would be two separa te crite ria for i t: the phy sical sta te itself and the b ehavior al manife stations. Witt genste in do es not devel op th is cri tici sm in any great de tail One ca n infe r from this passa ge that he be lieves tha t a mental state sho uld have b ut one cr iterion, t hough he does not e xplicitly say what this criter ion is. If, however, this account unde r consideration is correct, then either the knowledge that a person has the appropr iate physical state or the knowledge that a person behaves in such-and-such a way under certain circumstances would be suff icient for saying that he understands a given rule. I n a parenthetical remark, Wittgenstein alludes to a fur ther problem with this account, claiming that it makes the mistake of equating the distinction between conscious mental states and unconscious mental states with that between conscious mental states and dispositions (as the term is used in 149 indica ting a di spositiona l A state @ of the br ain). Just what he has in mind is not abundantly clea r, as no effort is made to specify either distinction, but something like the following seems to be a plausible interpretation. The distinction between conscious and unconscious mental states that Wittgenstein has in mind might be exemplified by the distinction between occurrent and non-occurr ent beliefs. A non-occurrent belief does not present itself to the possessor, an occurrent belief doe s. However, being non-occurr ent is not essential to the belief; it is possible for a person to actively consider a belief which did not previously prese nt itself. A disposition (again, using the term as Wittgenstein uses it in 149) is a phys ica l s tat e th at c aus es a per son to act in suc h-a ndsuc h a w ay in res pon se t o ce rta in st im ul i. It is not the sort of thing that can present itself to a person (we c an = t be aware of the neurologica l states of our brain at least, not directly ). In this sense, an unconscious mental state is not identical with a disposition, and thus the distinction between conscious and unconscious states cannot be identical with that between conscious states and dispositions.

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It is f or these two reas ons that Witt genste in rejec ts the ac count of u ndersta nding a s a mental state. The alternative offered is that under standing is akin to an ability. This avoids the problem of duration that faced the mental state acc ount, for one possesses an ability e ven when one is not employing that ability The questions raised at the beginning of this section re main, however. At what point do performances constitute understa nding, and how, on this account, can the se nsati on of c omin g to un derst and so methi ng A in a flash @ be explained? To add ress t he seco nd pro blem f irst one m ust ex amine what u nders tandi ng A in a flash @ amounts to. If a sequence of numbers is taken as an example, understanding in this way might consist in the grasping of the formula that g overns the sequence. But might it not be said that som eon e co ul d un der st and th e se que nce eve n i f th e fo rmu la n eve r oc cur red to hi m? If questioned, a person might not be in a position to recite the formula by which their continuation of a sequ ence is g overned he mig ht, instea d, claim th at contin uing in th e way that he do es just A feels @ right. Sh ould the pr edicatio n of unde rstandin g be wit hheld as a result, e ven if his performance never varie s with respect to the sequence from that of a per son who did recite the formula? Or, alternatively, might one be able to recite the formula, while continuing the sequence in an incorrect manner? I n this latter case, the formula may occur to the person, but not as the result of proper algebra ic thinking, and the formula would be of no use for continuing the series b ey ond the sa mple giv en. The u pshot of th ese cons ideratio ns is that, i n the cas e mentioned, being able to produce a statement of the r ule is neither necessary nor sufficient for understa nding. Si milar re marks ca n be made about the vague sensatio n that is co mmonly associated with understanding one can ha ve the sensation, and y et fail to understand (the sensation was premature, e.g.), a nd, presumably, one c an understand without that sensation occurr ing. Ta ke, for i nstance the mani pulation o f dough by t he appre ntice ba ker. When he first

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attempts t o shape d ough into a partic ular sha pe, the r esult is lik ely to be subst andard. His bague ttes will pr obably look like a snake tha t has swal lowed an elephan t. The pe rson, at t his early stage, understa nds that c ertain te chniques are nec essary for shap ing bag uettes, b ut he fai ls to unders tand enti rely how a bag uette is pr operly shaped. There a re subtle ties that h e fails to grasp. After repetition, he will notice that his product comes out looking right. He may be in cl in ed to sa y A Now I get it, @ but in truth this clai m comes a fter the fact. He will be una ble to pinpoint a ny i nstant in w hich he pr ogress ed from n ot unders tanding to unders tanding as it was a gradual change not a ccompanied by any sensation or be lief. The var ious pheno mena t hat can be ass ociat ed wit h unde rstan ding A in a flash @ are neither necessa ry nor suff icient fo r unders tanding This bolst ers Wittg enstein = s assertion that under stand ing is not a m ental proces s. The se phe nomen a may often accomp any unders tandi ng, but are not essential to it. Looking bac k to the example of the bread-maker, it becomes appar ent that, for Wittgenst ein, unde rstandin g is not ju st a matte r of bein g in some mental sta te. I t is, rather, the mastery of a technique. A person might reflec t on his (perhaps hypothetica l) actions and have the sensation of understanding something all at once, but this sensation is not understanding, but a by product of it. The answer to the other question under considera tion the question o f when a person c an be sai d to under stand c an be g leaned f rom these consider ations. As under standing is a maste ry of a tec hnique, a person c an be sai d to under stand if h e is capa ble of using the word in way s that ac cord with the esta blished r ules. I f a stude nt, instruc ted to develop a series of numbers by writing the next number but one, proceeds to write 1004 after 1000, then t here ha s been a fail ure of u nders tandi ng.

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20 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations Oxford, 1953, 185. Rule-F ollowing This leads to the discussion of rule-following beginning in 185. Here, Wittgenstein harkens back to the game introduced in 143 wherein a student is instructed to continue a series of numbers according to a certa in rule (the rule > +2 = ). It is conceivable that the pupil continues the series p erfec tly u p until a g iven point after which his p erforma nces wou ld be judg ed as not i n keepi ng wit h the r ule giv en for exam ple, a fter 1 000, h e cont inues the se ries b y writing > 1004, 1008, 1012 Y= When confronted with his mistake, the student contends that he has not deviated from the r ule give n, that he has proc eeded in the same manner a s before For the student, procee ding as he did was in keepi ng wit h the r ule as he und ersto od it writ ing > 1004 = after > 1000 = seemed correct because he did not take the rule to indicate that he should write the next number but one after each number. This misunderstanding is quite unusual g iven the rule in question; of this, Wittg enstein r emarks: A Such a case would present similarities with one in which a person naturally re acted to the gesture of pointing with the hand by looking in the direction of the line from finger-tip to wrist, not from wrist to fingertip. @ 20 This reinforces a point previously discussed, namely, that having a formula in one = s mind, so to speak, is not sufficient for understanding. I n this situation, the student can give expression to the rule that he is supposed to be following, so it would seem that he is thinking of the rule, but his actions belie misunderstanding. The student has understood the rule > +2 = to mean that he is to add two to the previous number in the set up to 1000, and then to add four thereafte r. This is not what was meant by the rule Rather, what was meant was that the student should add two to eve ry previous number in the set, s o that re gardle ss of the la st number the next wi ll always be two g reater.

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That this is what was meant is not very c ontroversial, and ye t, if someone is asked what just ifies writi ng > 1002 = after > 1000 = given th e rule, a nd not > 1004 = he may have a d ifficult time giving an answe r. That su ch a move is justifie d seems ob vious, but t he fact justify ing it is elusive. It might be claimed that upon unde rstanding the rule, one knew in advance which actions would be in accord with it, and so that in ordering the student to continue the ser ies according to the rule > +2 = the teacher meant for him to write > 1002 = after > 1000 = This cla im, taken in t he most lite ral sens e, cann ot be true One doe s not, upon understa nding, a ctively consider every possible application of a rule. One might be drawn to this view by the fact that upon understanding a rule, a person is in a position to act in accor dance with the rule without hesitation in novel situations. This is, of course, misguided. Every one understands the rule > +2 = but no one has thought of every step in a sequence governed by that rule the set is infinite, and humans have only a f inite capacity f or thought. Perhaps one has actively thought of the transition from 1000 to 1002 according to the rule > +2 = but some other example which has not been actively consider ed could b e produc ed, and th e convic tion as to h ow one sho uld act wo uld remain. Moreover, an appeal such as this would be a reversion to the mental conception of meaning and understanding, which Wittgenstein ha s already rejected on independent grounds. The notion of a rule involves the determination of correctne ss, but the elusiveness of the answer to the que stion of ho w they accompl ish this mig ht lead on e to quest ion wheth er rule s can determine which actions are correc t or incorrect. If a reason cannot be found to justify writing > 1002 = after > 1000 = when given the command to increase the se ries according to the rule > +2 = then how can t he studen t who write s > 1004 = be chastised? Some, most notably Saul Kripke, have taken Wittg enstein to present ing a ske ptical pa radox with r egard s rules a nd lang uage p recise ly

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on grounds of this sort. The next chapter is dedicated to exploring this interpretation of Wittgenst ein = s comments This brie f survey reveal s a number of notabl e things about Wittg enstein = s views on language. The re presentationalism of the Tractatus is rejected in favor of a much more complex view of language. Also re jected is the A calculus @ conception of the rules governing language: the rules of langua ge are not nece ssary in the way that the r ules of lo gic ar e, they do not go vern in all conceivable cases, and they are the constructs of those who speak the lang uage (i.e., they are not grounded in any thing external to the language). Cer tain mental conceptions of meaning are dism issed as inv okin g A occult @ propert ies in an a ttempt to a void conf ronting serious d ifficult ies; instead, Wittgenstein connects meaning with rule-g overned use, suggesting that the meaning of a term is to be read off of the role of the term in the lang uage. Similarly, c ertain mental conceptions of understanding are dismissed under standing is not to be equated with the sensatio n that ac companie s learnin g, nor w ith any other me ntal state ; in place of these views, Wittgenstein claims that understanding is an ability and attributions of understanding are to be restricted to those capable of correc t behavior within the relevant domain. The comp lexity of Wittge nstein = s views should be quite apparent. It would be f olly to think that one could grasp the principles of the Investigations by e xamining a few sele ct passa ges in isolation. As we shall see in the next chapter, Saul Kripke does just this. With the resources at hand, it should be possible to show just where Kripke goes astray in his interpretation of Wittgenstein.

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1 Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Language. Cambridge, 1982, p.5. CHAPTER 3 KRIPKE = S WITTGENSTEIN AND THE PHILOSOP HICAL INVE SITIGATI ONS The focus of this chapter will be Kripke = s interpr etation o f Wittgen stein = s comments on rulefollowing. Kripke = s book, Wittgenstein on Rules and Language has prove n incred ibly influenti al, even as m any commenta tors expre ss doubt ab out the ac curacy of its port ray al of Wittg enstein = s later thought. I hope tha t, as this chapter progresses, a clea r picture will emerge of the differe nces bet ween the discussio n of rule s in Wittge nstein = s Investigations and Kripke = s interpretation. Neither Kripke = s skeptical paradox, nor his skeptical solution to that paradox, I contend, is properly a ttributable to Wittgenstein. One might question the value of such an inquiry After all, Kripke does write that the ideas pr esented in WRL sh ould be tho ught of a s A Witttgens tein = s argument as it strikes Kripke, @ 1 and in doin g so, se ems to shie ld himself from cha rges of inaccur acy in interpr etation. To this it must be said that Kripke only once attempts to distance himself in such a way and proceeds th ro ug ho ut th e w or k a s i f h e w er e o ff er in g a st ra ig ht fo rw ar d i nt er pr et at io n, an d n ot me re ly a novel problem inspired by the wr itings of another. Furthermore, despite the dismissal by numerous thinkers of Kripke = s interpr etation, there a re few s erious a ttempts to ju stify this claim Perhaps t he fact that this ju stificat ion would h ave to be large ly e xegetic al in natu re explain s this: exegesis is typically seen as the work of historians, not those interested in fundamental questions about language. I t seems to this writer, though, that this discussion is not without merit, for any light, however dim, that can be shed on the writings of Wittge nstein is a boon.

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2 This is only one possible interpretation of > +2 = (out of infinitely many ) that the student could be appealing to. The Skeptical Paradox The discussion of Kripke = s interpretation of Wittgenstein was introduced in the introductory cha pter of this thesis. Recall that a problem seemed to arise when seeking the justification for the claim that the student who continued the series according to the rule > +2 = by writi ng A 1000, 1004, 1008 Y@ had made an error. Kripke takes this problem to be the ba sis of a skeptical paradox with regards to meaning a nd, more generally rule-following. Any action, it might see m, can be made to accord with a give n rule if there is some way of stating the rule which makes the action out to conform with it. The student who continues the series as previously noted can be said to be acting in accor dance with the rule > +2 = insofar as he has inter preted t he rule a s follows: A add 2 to every number less than 1000, and add 4 to every number greater than or equa l to 1000." 2 Yet if this is the case, then any continuation of the series can be sa id to acc ord with th e rule, a nd any continua tion can s imilarly be said to conflic t with it. This would seem to un dermine appeal t o a rule a s a standa rd of cor rectne ss indee d, it seems to destroy the ver y possibility of the existence of rules. One does not need a fully -developed account of rules to have the conviction that a rule func tions as an arbiter between correc t and incorre ct behav ior. I f it were to turn out that this w as impossib le, due to the inabi lity to state cohere ntly how a rule c ould set a standar d of corr ectness by d istinguis hing, a t least in m ost cases, which actions definitely were in accord with it and which actions definitely were not, then rules would have to be relegated to the r ealm of fiction. Kripke highlights the problem in a slightly different way than Wittgenstein. Instead of asking what justifies the claim that the student has proceeded incor rectly, he c onstructs a thought

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experiment that puts into doubt the conviction that one = s curre nt use of a word is in k eeping with one = s past use Specifi cally with reg ards to th e term > plus = he asks whether the answer > 125 = to the question A What is 68 plu s 57?" is in ke eping w ith the pa st usage of the te rm. By hyp othesis, the subje ct has ne ver per formed a ddition on n umbers g reater than 57, a nd while h is past usa ge is in consistent with his having meant addition, it is also consistent with his having meant the more complicated function of quaddition whose definition is repeated here: x r y = x + y if x y < 57 = 5 otherwise. As the subject = s past usage of > plus = and > + = conforms both with the supposition that he meant ad dition and with the su pposition th at he mea nt quaddit ion, what fact mak es it the c ase that he meant one rather than the other? Kripke points out that no instructions that one has previous ly g iven onse lf will suf fice, f or any such instr uction ca n fall pre y to the skept ic = s doubt. Kripke considers the following candidate for instruction with regards the function in question: when fa ced with a ny e quation of the form x + y = ?, one is to grab a handful of markers, and count out one pile equal to the value of x and another equal to the value of y The two piles are then comb ined and c ounted, th e result b eing the value sou ght. Ye t the skep tic can c all into question t he term > count = Perhaps when one gave himself such instructions, one wa s using the term > count = to mean quount an acti vity whereb y on e perfo rms the ac tion assoc iated wit h counting if one is joining two heaps that are individually less than 57, but whereby one answers > 5 = if eit her hea p is 5 7 or mo re. If one indee d was u sing > count = in this manner, then the instructions that he gave himself for > plus = would dictate that he now answer > 5 = Any instructions that o ne cou ld cit e groun ding > count = as mean ing count would fa ll prey to similar w orries.

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3 Cf. Philosophical Investigations 84-86, 185, and 201. The cha llenge then, is t his: can a ny f act be pr oduced th at makes it the cas e that the claim that the present usage of > plus = (whereby the correct answer to the question > What is 68 plus 57? = is 125) conforms to past usage (whereby the correct answer is 5)? The considerations of the preced ing par agrap h, motivate d by Wittgenst ein = s comments 3 on rule following, attempt to show that as a ny r ule can b e variou sly interpre ted, and t hat as no i nterpre tation is in any sense privileged, nothing in a subject = s mental history fixes what one meant. Wittgenstein illustrated how under standing did not bes tow upon a subject k nowledg e of how t o act ac cording to the rule understo od in ever y po ssible cir cumstanc e, and the rule tha t the subje ct might b e in a posi tion to cite as the one he is following is subject to many different interpretations, each, acc ording to the skeptic, with no better claim than any other to be the A correct @ one. So not hing men tal seems to solve the problem. Of course, there may be other options. Perhaps non-mental facts about a person ca n determin e what tha t person m eans in a given si tuation. T he disposi tionalists in partic ular will argue something like this. K ripke re jects a d ispositiona l accoun t, and with good re ason. Thi s issue will be investigated in some detail in the next chapter. For now, it is enough to note that the only facts tha t Kripke t hinks are even ca ndidates for fixing meaning are men tal and be haviora l, and neith er, he f eels, fo ot the bill. Having set out in su fficien t detail th e challe nge of the skept ic, Kripk e makes s ome rema rks a bout t he sc ope o f the skep tica l par adox: Given, ho wever, that eve ry thing in m y me ntal histor y is compatible with the conclusion that I meant plus and with the concl usio n that I meant q uus, i t is cl ear tha t the s cepti cal cha llenge is not really an epistemolog ical one. It purports to show that nothing in my mental history of past behavior not even what an

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4 Saul Kripke, Witgenstein on Rules and Private Language Cambridge, 1982, p. 21. omniscient God would know could establish whether I meant plus or quu s. 4 According to Kripke, if the skeptic is successful in showing that there is no fact that establish es that a subject me ant one th ing rat her than another then the conclusi on to be dr awn is not episte mologic al. That i s, it isn = t a matter of not knowing what a subject meant by his use of a term as a result of not being able to di scover a meaning -fixing f act (whi ch may exist, but do so beyond our ken) Instead, it is Kripke = s content ion that the inability to find suc h facts is a result of the ab sence of any potentia l candida tes (suc h as instru ctions tha t a subjec t gives h imself) to just ify a claim about what a subj ect me ans. T his b eing th e case, there s impl y are no mea ningfixing facts. Notice how strange the label ske ptic appears in this light: Kripke = s interloc utor isn = t merely cla iming that meaning facts are something that cannot be known rather, he claims that such fac ts have no place in metaphy sical spa ce. Fur thermore the so-c alled ske ptic take s this nihilism ab out meani ng-fixin g fact s to entail nihilism ab out meani ng in g eneral without t hese facts, th ere is no such thing as meani ng any thing by any word. On ce his ca rds are on the tab le, it is clear that he is no skeptic at all. Though the so-called ske ptic initiates the discussion by questioning the possibility of a ce rtain kind of knowledge, he eventually abandons skepticism for a position that has metaphysical as w ell as epistemological implications. This position, moreover, is on much shakier ground than skepticism. The conc lusions that there is no such thing as meaning and, thereby that language is impossible, cannot be cog ently arg ued for as they would render any premises that might be brought to bear unjustified. While arg uments for skepticism have been given that suffer fr om the same problem (for example, the argument from deceptive senses that is advanced in Meditations II ), it is generally granted that some skeptical

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5 Ibid., p.7. arguments exist that do not. No such argument, it seems, could be give n for the claim that language is impossible. Kripke attempts to overcome this problem by insisting that the so-called skeptic is only raising c oncerns about a person = s past usage of a term, the idea being that there are no worries about the languag e being used to establish the problem. This won = t work, as the scope of the conclusion is not limited to language in the past. The labe l skeptic, then, is not properly used w ith respect to Kripke = s gadfl y. T his, thoug h, is a mino r observ ation, an d is tangential to the purposes of this chapter. Kripke neve r intended the his interlocutor to be presenting a tenable thesis about langua ge, in any event, as he ultimately a ttempts to show how langua ge is pos sible with out the exist ence of meaning -facts. Problems with the Skeptical Paradox Interpretation In a discussion of Kripke = s interpr etation o f Wittgen stein, the re are few bett er plac es to start tha n at Investigations 201, for it is this passage which Kripke identifies as centra l to the project of the Investigations Kripke quotes the first paragraph of this section at the beginning of his chapter on the A Wittgensteinian Paradox @ This was our paradox: no course of action could be determined by a rule, because any course of action can be made out to acc ord with the rule. The answer was: if any action c an be mad e out to accord with the r ule, then it can als o be made out to conf lict with it. And so there would be neither accord nor conf lict here. 5 One can see the origins of Kripke = s skep tic i n thi s pass age, to be sur e. Wh at is i nteres ting, though, is that despite the importance Kripke places on this section, he does not g ive any attention to the next p aragr aph, whic h reads a s follows: It can be seen tha t there is a misunderstanding here from the mere fact that in the course of our arg ument we give one interpretation after a nother; a s if eac h content ed us at le ast for a moment, un til

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we thoug ht of y et anothe r standin g behin d it. What thi s shews is that ther e is a way of gra sping a r ule which is not an interpretation but which is exhibited in what we call A obey ing the r ule @ and A going agains t it @ in actua l cases. Hence there is an inclination to say : any action ac cording to the rule is an interpretation. But we ought to restrict the te rm A interpretation @ to the substitution of one expression of the rule for another. Contrary to Kripke = s claim that the skeptical paradox is the central issue of the Investigations Wittgenstein appears to dismiss it immediately. The par adox is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of rules and rulefollowing, a misunderstanding which Wittgenst ein is atte mpting to illuminate Think ba ck, once again, to the stud ent from 185. When confronted with the student = s actions in continu ing the s eries > +2 = one is inclined to say that the student has misunderstood the rule. Instead of unde rstanding it to mean A write the n ext but one after every number in the series @ he has taken it to mean something like A add 2 to every number up to 1000, and add 4 thereafter @ Both of these alternatives constitute interpretations (or, in the case of the latter, a misinterpretation) of the rule > +2 = ; they are dif ferent expressions of the rule. The possibility of many different interpretations, and the seeming lac k of a justification for giving any particular interpretation priority leads to the worries about rule-following, as we have seen. But not only does Wittgenstein deny the c onclusion that rule-following is impossible, he denie s the conc eption of rule-fo llowing w hich led t o this prob lem. What Witt genste in rejec ts is the idea that understanding a rule is simply a matter of interpreting it correc tly that is, of being able to give the corre ct alternative expression of the rule. During the discussion of ostensive definitions in the last chapter, the role that rules play in the language-g ame was briefly touched upon. It was said that rules ar e used to explain and justify behavior and to instruct novice s about the proper moves to make within the confines of

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the game in question. When a person engag es in any of these activities, he is playing a game for which there are rules. One ca nnot, of course, simply cite some r ule one has to cite a rule that agree s with his a ctions, f or other wise, his a ttempts to e xplain or jus tify behavior would fa il. It is in this agreement that the meaning of a r ule is to be found. To determine the meaning of a wor d, Wittgenst ein claim s that one must examine the way that the w ord is use d what b ehavior is associated with it. So too with rules. If one examines the behavior a ssociated with the citation of a rule, one can determine the actions which c ount as being in accord with the rule. I t is not an interpretation of a rule that determines what acc ords with the rule, but rather, the way that the rule is used the behavior associated with it, that does this. Thus, Wittgenstein writes in 198: A any interpre tation still hangs in the air along with what it interprets, and cannot g ive it any suppo rt. Inte rpret ation s by thems elves do not determ ine me aning. @ As mentioned earlier, one of Kripke = s theses regarding the Investigations is the claim that the skeptical paradox is among the central issues of the work. The text does not strongly support this claim Wittgen stein doe s not appe ar to be a dvancing a form of skepticis m or nihilis m as a thesis which seriously threa tens rule-following and languag e. Instead, he is conce rned with a particular conception of rule-following w hereby the connection between a rule and those ac tions which accord with it is made by the interpretation given to the rule by a subject. Just as he rejecte d mentalis tic pictur es of mea ning an d underst anding so to does Wittgenst ein reje ct this mentalistic picture of rule-following. Having in one = s mind a pa rticular formulat ion of a r ule (that is, a sentence expressing the rule) does not settle once and for all how the rule guides actions, for any interpre tation is su bject to f urther in terpre tation. Suc h a conc eption le ads to absurdity in that it strips rules of their normative c haracter, since it seems to entail that any act can be made to accord with a rule. So, this conception must be re jected, and in its place

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6 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophi cal Gramm ar. Oxford, 1974, p.161-2. 7 Michael Dummett, Wittgensteins Philosophy of Mathematics p.348, as quoted in Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language Cambridge, 1982 p.73. Wittgenstein offers the picture mentioned above: the connec tion between a rule and those actions which ac cord with it is estab lished by custom th e regu lar asso ciation o f the rule with cer tain behavior Unders tanding a rule is a matter of being a ble to mak e this asso ciation in practic e. I t is this which is the focus of 198' 201. Kripke = s attribut ion of a no n-fact ualism with respec t to meanin g to Wittg enstein me rits consideration. On the one hand, Wittgenstein would almost certainly agree with the claim that no facts about a subject = s mental hi story could est ablish wha t was mea nt in a gi ven insta nce. Thi s would see m to follow from Wittg enstein = s reje ction of men tali stic c oncep tion s of me aning, understa nding, a nd rulefollowing On the ot her, look ing at so me of Wittg enstein = s middlepe ri od wo rk s, es pe ci al ly Philosophical Grammar it appears that he did accept at least a limited form of f actualis m: A The proposition determines in advance what will make it true. @ Certainly, the proposition A p @ determin es that p mu st be the c ase in order to make it tr ue; and th at means : (the proposition p) = (the proposition that the fact p makes true). Y Like every thing metaphysica l the harmony betwe en thought and reality is to be found in the g rammar of the language 6 But is Kr ipke cla iming tha t Wittgens tein came to deny this by the time he came to w rite the Investigations ? Perhaps not When cha racter izing Wittg enstein = s non-factualism, Kripke appeals to a quote by M ichael D ummett: A the Investigations contains implicitly a rejection of the classical (realist) Frege Tractatus view that the gen eral fo rm of expla nation of meaning is a statemen t of the tr uth condit ions. @ 7 This is not as sweeping a claim as one attributing a g eneral non-fac tualism, a nd if this is all that K ripke is u p to, then t here is s ome truth h ere. Wittg enstein

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would like ly d eny that ther e is any general form t hat an expl anati on of m eanin g must take. Howeve r, it appe ars that K ripke is a fter big ger fi sh, for he claims tha t Wittgens tein see ks to overthr ow the vie w that all meaning can be e xplained in terms of t ruth cond itions and replac e it with an A assertion conditional @ theory. Ag ain, there may be some truth to the claim that Wittgenst ein reje cts a trut h-condit ional the ory of meani ng. I f what is m eant is tha t Wittgens tein rejects the view t hat A a decla rative se ntence g ets its mea ning by virtue of its truth conditions by virtue of its correspondence to facts that must obtain if it is true, @ then this seems right. The meaning of a dec larative sentenc e comes f rom the wa y th at the se ntence i s used f rom the ro le that it plays in the langua ge games in which it figure s. But whether he intends to replace truthconditional semantics with a theory a bout assertion conditions is another matter entirely Befor e moving on to this top ic, thoug h, it should be asked whether Wittgenst ein would have agreed with Kripke = s claim that there are no facts about behavior w hich can establish what a speaker meant. As Wittgenstein charac terized rule-following as a practice or an activity, and meaning as connected with use, it would seem as if fa cts about a person = s behavior could in his view, establish what a speaker meant. Granted, the se facts would not be free from normative terms, as some of the behavior involved has normative import (that is, the facts being considered would hav e to take into acc ount the pr actice s of teac hing, e xplaining and so on ). But the re is nothing o bvious in Witt genste in = s writing s which e xplicitly rules out such fac ts, and the ir normative character need not disqualify them from consideration as answers to the skeptic. The Skeptical Solution A There can be no such thing as mea ning any thing by any word. Each new application we make is a leap in th e dark; a ny p resent in tention c ould be int erpret ed so as to accord with

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8 Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982 p.55. 9 Cf. David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Indianapolis, 1993, Section V. 10 One would be, in effect, attempting to justify the principle that one can extrapolate from observed regularities to unobserved re gularities by appeal to observed cases where suc h extrapola tion prove d to be cor rect. 11 David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Indianapolis, 1993, Section V, Part I SBN p.41. any thing we may choose to do. So ther e can be neither accord nor con flict. @ 8 Thus Kripke begins the third c hapter o f his book, in which h e outline s what he sees as Wit tgenste in = s A skeptical solution @ to the skeptical paradox. The notion of a skeptical solution to a skeptical problem comes fr om Hume = s Enquiry 9 Hume famously finds himself fa ced with a skeptical problem concerning inductive reasoning namely, that inductive infer ences can be justified neither a priori nor a posterio ri Briefly induction cannot be justified a priori since the denial of the conclusion of any induc ive argument is conceivable while g ranting the truth of the premises. To attempt to justify induction through empirica l methods begs the question. 10 Thus, the skeptic about indu ction cla ims that no inductive inferences are ever justified Hume doe s not deny these points. He does, how ever, de ny t hat such c onsidera tions will A undermine the reasonings of common life and carry its doubts so far as to destroy all ac tion as well as speculation. @ 11 That is, though those beliefs arrived at through induc tion cannot be rationally justified, the ske ptical consider ations ar e incapa ble of af fecting them. Huma ns are by nature c ompelled to make th ese inferences, and so while a skepticism about induction is justified, this skepticism will not have any effec t on prac tical judg ements. B eliefs th at are a rrived a t throug h inductio n may not, according to Hume, be justified, but the compulsion to make these judge ments is stronger than the skepticism which would advocate a rejection of them.

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12 Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language Cambridge, 1982, p.66. 13 Ibid., p.78. Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as taking a somewhat similar appr oach to the aforementioned considerations against mea ning. Rather than attempt to refute the claims of the A skeptic @ regarding the non-existence of me aning-fixing facts, Kripke = s Wittgenstein agrees, but with a ca veat: A Nevertheless, our ordinary practice or belief is justified because c ontrary appearances notwithstanding it need not re quire the justification the sceptic has shown to be untenable. @ 12 In other words, Kripke = s Wittgenstein accepts the A skeptic = s @ premise that there are no meaning-fixing facts, but denies that this entails the impossibility of meaning. Claims of the sort A S meant m by > w =@ ar e n ot ju st if ie d b y so me fa ct ab ou t t he wo rl d, bu t r at he r b y assertabi lity conditions It sh ould be no ted, thoug h, that the re is a dif ferenc e betwe en Hume = s strategy and that being attributed to Wittgenstein. Hume concluded that inductive infere nces are not justified, but that this fact was incapable of ending the pra ctice of making such inference s, as this practice is by nature compe lled. Kripke = s Wit tgenst ein, o n the o ther h and, c laim s that whil e meani ngclaims ca nnot be es tablished by a ppeal to f acts, tha t there a re condi tions unde r which th eir assertio n is warranted Hume ne ver cla ims that ind uctive in ferenc es are w arrant ed, or tha t some other watered-down normative predica te can be applied to them, but rather that people are going to continue making them despite the fact that they cannot be justified. Kripke in itially offers a rathe r weak d escripti on of thes e conditi ons as A roughly specifiable circumstances under which [assertions] are leg itimately assertable, @ 13 though he goes on the flesh it out somewhat, albeit in a way that, at first glance, makes the skeptical solution seem impla usible:

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14 Ibid., p.88. It is part of our langua ge game of speaking of rules that a speaker may, without ultimately giving any justification, follow his own confi dent i nclin ation that t his wa y (say, respon ding > 125 = ) is the right way to resp ond, r ather t han an other way (e.g. res pondi ng > 5 = ). That is, the > assertability conditions = that lice nse an ind ividual to say that, on a g iven occasion, he ought to follow his rule this way rather than that are, ult imately that he d oes what he is incli ned to do. 14 This should give the reader pause. K ripke ap pears to be say ing that a person is entitle d to claim tha t his way of behav ing acc ords with a certain rule if he behave s in the man ner that he is inclined to. So, a person who is inclined to give the answer > 125 = to the question A What is 57 +6 8" a nd su bs eq ue nt ly d oe s s o, ca n c la im th at he me an t a dd it io n b y > + = (or, perhaps more accurately can claim that he understood > + = to mean a ddition) a nd, give n that, ca n claim tha t his answer is corre ct. This w ould seem to have th e conseq uence th at any answer to this question would be c orrect if it stemm ed from th e inclina tions of the subject. If th e person was incli ned to give the answer > 5 = then it would be claimed that his use of > + = accorded with its meaning quaddition, and that his answer accorded with this rule. Yet meaning has a normative component, and this view saps it of this. If a person we re to write down > 5 = in response to the question A What is 57+68", the response would not be that the student performed corr ectly based upon some interpretation, or that the student = s actions were in line with > + = denot ing quaddition Rather, t he studen t would be chastise d for mak ing a mis take, fo r not unde rstandin g the ru le given. Something more must b e said on t he matter To this Kr ipke appe als to Wittg enstein = s brief comments on private languag e, and adds the condition that the answer given must be su bj ec t t o c or re ct io n b y ot he r m em be rs of th e c om mu ni ty: Jones is entitle d, subjec t to corre ction by others, p rovisiona lly t o say, A I me an ad di ti on by > plus = @ whenever he has the feeling of

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15 Ibid., p.90. 16 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophi cal Inve stigations. Oxford, 1953, 202. 17 See the following chapter. confidence A now I can g o on! @ that he can give the > correct = responses in new cases; and he is entitled, again provisionally a nd subject to correction by others, to judge a new response to be > correct = simply because it is the response he is inclined to give. 15 This accoun t plac es agree ment a mongs t mem bers o f a comm unit y at the co re of m eanin g. Of course, agreeme nt of this sort is required for communication. Wittgenstein writes in 240: A Disputes do not break out Y over the question whether a rule has been obe yed or not Y That is part of the framework on which the working of our language is based ( for example, in giving descrip tions). For Wittg enstein, agree ment amon gst memb ers of a community is a prer equisite for commu nication There is reaso n to think th at he doe s not think th at it play s the cen tral role assigned to it by Kr ipke. Problems with the Skeptical Solution Interpretation There are some worries about the skeptica l solution apart from those arising from the inappropriateness of the skeptical paradox interpretation. There is little explicit textual evidence to support the claim that Wittg enstein is advoca ting re placing truth con ditions with asserta bility condition s. To beg in with, now here doe s Wittgens tein sug gest tha t an individ ual is licensed to act, with respec t to a rule in one wa y r ather th an anothe r, beca use he is i nclined t o do so. I n fact, he seems to say the exact opposite w hen he re marks tha t A to think one is obe yin g a rule is not to obey a rule . 16 Of course, this comment precedes a prohibition on private rule f ollowing, which Kripke a ppeals to in an atte mpt to salva ge this v iew, but w hatever merits it ma y ha ve on its own 17 it is not supp orted by Wittgenst ein = s text.

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18 Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language Cambridge, 1982, p.110. The communal aspect of Kripke = s assertability conditions arises fr om a misinterpretation of Wittge nstein = s comments on privat e langu ages. Kripke v iews 202 as stating the conclusion of an ar gument t o the eff ect that p rivate la nguag es are i mpossible. Wittgenst ein doesn = t go out of his way to make c lear just what he me ans when he speak s of pri vate r ule-foll owing, b ut it is clear that Kripke takes him to be speaking of isolation fr om a community of speake rs (not necessarily a physical isolation, though this is the form such isolation will usually take). Kripke = s assert abili ty condit ions requi re the p resenc e of a co mmun ity, mak ing rul e-fol lowi ng a funda menta lly soci al prac tice. But th e pass ages pre cedin g 202 indicate that Wittgenstein is up to something different. Understanding a r ule, and acting in accordance with it, is a practice. That is, rulegover ned acti vity exists only insofar as there is a cer tain reg ularity betwee n certa in performances and the citation of rules. When Wittgenstein writes in 199 that It i s not possib le that ther e should ha ve been only one occ asion on w hich only one pers on obey ed a rule , he is making a rather simple comment on the nature of r ule following: that as a practice, rulefollowing requires a history of regularity in behavior. The key portion of this passage is the restriction against singular occurr ences, not a restriction against people in isolation. Perhaps K ripke ha sn = t been done justice here. After all, he does wr ite that it does not follow fr om the priv ate lang uage a rgumen t (as he s ees it) th at A Robinson Crusoe, isolated on an island, cannot be said to follow any rules Y . 18 Yet his strategy for allowing for this is a bit odd. The assertability c onditions that he attributes to Wittgenstein require communal agreement as the standard of correctness. I f this is right, then an individual who lacks a community will have no such stan dard, an d without th is standa rd, cann ot be said to follow r ules. I ntuitively though this seems inc orrect A casta way doesn = t loose his a bility to speak i n his nativ e tongu e simply

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because there are none of his countrymen around to c orrect him. Kripke = s solution to this problem is to claim th at such a n individua l can be said to follow ru les, but on ly in sofar a s he is adopted i nto a comm unity by t hose con sidering him. Bein g adopt ed into a c ommunity amounts to being judged by t he crite ria for r ule-foll owing he ld by the commu nity in questio n. The cr iteria for rule-following, for Kripke, ar e assertability conditions, at the c ore of which is communal agreement. As Kripke wishes to say that Crusoe can be said to speak a languag e, he must be thinking that the community doing the judging is the community w ith which Crusoe = s behavior must agree. I ndeed, in a footnote, Kripke character izes this adoption as attributing the rules of the community to the individual being eva luated. So Crusoe, when considered by Englishspeakers, is subject to correction by a community, though indirec tly. His behavior can be judged as confo rming to or violati ng the r ules of th e communi ty. Howeve r, when Cr usoe is A considered in isolation, none of this is the c ase. Witho ut the judg ement of a communi ty, be it eve r so distant, Crusoe cannot be said to follow rules and, therefore, ca nnot be said to speak a language This seem s to have t he effe ct that actual communal assent is not necessary The fact that Crusoe = s behavior matches up with that of a distant community in such a way a s to allow for the community to judge him would be enoug h to justify the claim that he speaks Eng lish. This view, though, leads to further problems. Consider two men living in isolation on two remote islands. Assume that these men have never been ta ught to speak any language. Now assume further that over the course of their lives, the me n have developed strange beha vioral traits. The behavior of one of these men is such that, were he to be observed by an Englishspeaking person, he would be judged to be speaking English to himself. Not only would one judge that he seems to be speaking Eng lish to himself, but his behavior is so sophisticated that were he to encounter an Eng lishman, the two would apparently be able to strike up a

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convers ation, tho ugh one limited by certain terms tha t are uns hared du e to the di ffere nces in their surroundings (the man on the island, presumably would not be able to talk about cars and computers). Since the islander = s behavio r matche s up with som e distant c ommunity he can be said to speak English. The behavior of the other man a lso involves vocalizations, but does not correspond to any known language. His behavior, le t = s assume, is equally as sophisticated a s the man who seems to speak English. I f the above view is right, then for this reason alone the man cannot be said to spe ak a lang uage o r follow r ules. This doesn = t seem right, though. That the one can be sa id to spea k a lang uage, and the ot her not, s eems to be the resu lt of an a ccident It is conceivable that the second man does do all of these thing s, but that the rules he follows are different from those followed by any other c ommunity of speakers. Tha t this is so is a reason for rejecting the view that agr eement with others is a necessary condition of rule-following. There is textual evi dence th at indica tes Wittge nstein did not see hi s comments on privat e languages as prohibiting the de velopment of languages by those in isolation. In Investigations 243, whic h prior to Kripke w as seen a s the initia l passag e of the p rivatelangua ge arg ument, Wittgenst ein write s: We could e ven imag ine human beings w ho spoke o nly in monologu e; who ac companie s their ac tivities by talking to themselve s. An explo rer who watche d them and listened t o their talk migh t succee d in trans lating th eir lang uage in to ours. The situa tion desc ribed he re make s no appe al to commu nal asse nt. The sp eakers in question should not be viewed as engaged in c orrective, educative, or any other sort of normative behavior amongst one another (their lang uages need not even be similar), and it is clea r that the explorer is not simply adopting them into hi s own commu nity Certain ly, to be succ essful in

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19 Cf. Investigations 185. The type of thing s to be presupposed would be akin to the natural reactio n to pointin g, whic h is to look in the dire ction of w rist-tofinger tip. We assu me that our counterpart does not differ from us (to any great extent) with respect to things such as the way in which he finds it natural to classify thing s, or the way he responds to natural indicato rs. translat ing thei r langu age int o his own, h e must pre suppose c ertain b asic thing s about the m, 19 but this cannot be all that Kripke has in mind, for in the Crusoe scenario, it was essential that Crusoe be considered as a full-fledge d member of the linguistic community doing the judging. The explorer doesn = t need to c onsider t he speak ers he ob serves a s members of his com munity in order to say of them that they follow rules and spe ak languages all he ne eds to do is watch and listen for telltale behavioral signs. Concluding R emark s Kripke is correc t in claimin g that Witt genste in denies the existen ce of fa cts about a speaker = s mental history which could establish what a speaker meant by a particular sign on a given occasion. As Wittgenstein asserts that meaning understanding, and rule-following ar e not mental ph enomena it follow s that he w ould reje ct the cla im that fa cts about the mind c ould establish what one means, whether one understands, and whe ther one is following a rule. Yet Kripke g oes furt her and t akes the se comme nts as aime d at esta blishing a gene ral skep ticism about the possibility of rulefollowing and lang uage. Howeve r, Wittge nstein = s goal in the Investigations is to clea r up misco nception s that hav e led to se emingly intracta ble probl ems in philosophy, and his comments around 201 should be read in this light. Wittgenstein makes clear that the A paradox @ surrounding rule-following is not something to be taken se riously, and results from an unsatisfactory conception of rule-following. Kripke = s interpretation does not apprec iate this f act.

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20 G.P. Baker and P.M.S Hacker, Scepticism, Rules and Language. Oxford, 1984, p.49. As stated above, c entral to the skept ical solut ion that Kr ipke asc ribes to Wit tgenste in is the view of language a nd rule-following as essentially social or communal activities. This view arises f rom a misr eading of Wittge nstein = s comments on private languages. Wittgenstein wa s not claiming in 199' 202 that rule-following does not make sense except in a social setting ; rather, he was making the point that as a practice, r ule-following requires a reg ularity in behavior, a nd as such, a rule cannot be followed only once (for no regularity could be established), and cannot be such that only one pe rson could, in principle, follow it (for the behavioral aspect of rule following is, in principle, able to be replicated by others). Finally, aside f rom the problems with Kripke = s chara cterizat ion of ass ertabili ty condition s, the cla im that Wittg enstein w as seeki ng to re place tr uth-cond itional se mantics w ith talk of a ssertab ility condition s doesn = t seem to respect the complexity of the vie w that he was putting f orth. Ba ker and H acker s um up this c riticism be st: Forcing Wittgenst ein into the invented position of construc tivism, intuitionist semantics, assertion-conditions theories, is altogether misguided. It is a mistake stemming from a hankering after sweepin g gen eralizat ions, glo bal conf rontation s of sema ntic theories, and large-scale the ory-building. B ut Wittgenstein builds no such the ories. He does not c ontend tha t a lang uage is a monolithic structur e run thr ough wit h truth-c onditions or assertion condition s which g ive mean ings to se ntences and word s. It i s not a calculus of rules, either in the form of classical log ic or in the form of intuitio nist logic It is a motley of lang uagegames, an endle ssly variegated form of human ac tivity, interwoven with our lives at every level. 20

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CHAPTER 4 SOLUTI ONS TO KRIPKE = S SKEPTI CAL PA RADOX: NON-FACTUALI SM, REDUCTIONI SM, AND NON-RED UCTI ONI SM In thi s chapte r, I e xamine sev eral of the more common re plies to the skeptic = s chal lenge about meaning-facts. For the sake of continuity between the previous chapter and the current one, the first reply that will be discussed will be Kripke = s skeptical response. While doubts were raised in the last c hapter a bout the a ppropria teness of attributi ng this vi ew to Wittg enstein, little was said about the merits of this view itself. At issue here will be Kripke = s non-factualism and the communal aspect of his assertability conditions. At the end of this discussion, reasons for rejecting this solution should emerge. Following the discussion of the skeptical solution, traditional direct solutions to the skeptical challenge will be examined. A straight solution to the skeptic consists in the offer ing of a particular ty pe of fact which is supposed to be capable of e stablishing what a speaker means on a given occasio n. The mos t common dir ect res ponses ar e varia tions on the disposition alist account. Kripke offers some very compelling reasons for rejecting dispositionalism, but the view has prove n tenaci ous. While o ne cann ot reaso nably hope to, in the cour se of one essay put to rest once and for all any philosophical theory, it can be hoped that clear reasons can be g iven for thinking that a pa rticular line of inq uiry is troublin g enoug h to warr ant settin g it asid e while more fru itful ave nues are explored. The dispo sitionalis t accoun t seems to h ave much agains t it, and hopefully this will become e vident in this chapter. The dispo sitionalis t attempts to answe r the ske ptic on the skeptic = s terms. Having rejected the appeal to instructions, the skeptic asks for facts which are naturalisti c that is, facts which can be given in behavioral terms. I t is the unavailability of any suitable naturalistic facts that

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1 Cf Crispin Wright, A Kripke = s Accou nt of t he Argum ent Aga inst Priv ate Langua ge @ The Journal of Philosophy vol. 81 no. 12, December 1984, p.769. prompts Kripke to develop his skeptical solution. It is far from cle ar, though, that the restriction to naturalistic facts is well motivated. This chapter, and this thesis, will end with a discussion of whether non naturalisti c facts might be suitable as a direct response to Kr ipke = s skeptic. Such a strateg y w ould not be play ing by the skept ic = s rules, and might not, in the end, bear fruit, but the possibility will be explored. Kripkes Skeptical Solution, Revisited Kripke = s non-factualism with respect to meaning results in the view that sentenc es of the form A S meant m by > w =@ are not true in virtue of some fact. I nstead, claims about what a speaker meant are justified by reference to the appropriate conditions of assertion, which themselves make reference to the assent of a community of speake rs. There is reason to think, though, that Kripke = s non-fa ctualism d oesn = t merely extend to se ntences attributi ng mean ing. Wrig ht, in his es sa y A Kripke = s Accou nt of t he Argum ent Aga inst Priv ate Langua ge @ and Bog hossian, i n his es sa y A The RuleFollowin g Conside rations, @ think that Kripke is committed to a A global @ nonfactua lism, or a r ejection of fact s simpliciter The reasoning behind this claim is as follows: the truth-value of a sentence is determined by the meaning of the sentence and the r elevant state-ofaffairs; if there is no fact of the matter with re spect to the meaning of a sentence, then the re is no fact of the matter with respect to the truth-value of tha t sentence. 1 This has th e uncomf ortable result that the truth-value of any sentence, not just ascriptions of meaning, is in part determined by the conditions of warr anted assertion, and not by facts alone. This includes the truth-value of sentenc es expres sing log ical trut hs ( A P w ~P @ ), sentences expressing mathematical equations ( A 2+3=5 @ ), and the sentenc e express ing the t hesis of g lobal nonfactua lism itself This is a

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striking and somewhat extreme result, and one may be tempted to think that there must be something wrong with this view. The problem here may be more felt than actual, though, a shock at the scope of the view. I f there is any incoher ence here, it is not obvious. The proponent of global non-factualism can claim that when one talks of truth, one is really spe aking of warranted assertion, and this extends to the thesis of global non-fac tualism. Any worries that one might have in this regard stems from continuing to think of truth in purely factual terms. Perhaps t here ar e reaso ns for ac cepting such a vie w. Kripke though seems f orced in to accepting this view by his skeptical solution; if it can be shown that the skeptical solution has other problems, then global non-factualism will have to be rec ommended on independent grounds. As it stands, there are further w orries about the skeptical solution, ones which stem from the c ommunitar ian aspe ct of the asserta bility condition s. According to Kripke, following a r ule does not make sense outside of a community of practitioners. One can only be said to act according to a rule g iven that he is inclined to behave in such an d such a w ay with resp ect to a g iven rule and that h is communit y, b y a nd larg e, would assent to the correctness of his behavior. Ag reement with a community, then, is the ma rk of correctness. There can be no such thing as a community as a whole (or at least, a majority of the community) acting incorrectly with respect to a given rule. Th is sh ou ld ra is e s om e e yeb ro ws In tu it iv el y, a co mm un it y can get things wrong and misapply rules. I n many contempora ry Eng lish-speaking areas, the word > literally = is used by many members of the community to mean something akin to > figura tively = The phr ases A It is literally raining cats and dogs out here @ A I am literally freezing to death @ A He literally knocked the hell out of that guy @ should not seem too foreign; these, or similar phrases, are ba ndied about frequently in e veryday use, and not just by the so-ca lled uneducated masses. Now, it might not

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be the case that such uses are the most common, but it would not take any great effort of imagination to think that such could be the case. Now, if such were the c ase, and assuming that the histor y of the Eng lish lang uage r emained large ly u nchang ed (with t he except ion that the use of the word > literally = as synony mous with > figura tively = had become more prevalent in rece nt years than in fact ), wou ld it be app ropri ate to say that u sing > literally = syn ony mously with > figura tively = was correct? It can be g ranted that in this situation, using the word > literally = in this way would be e ffective in communication, but this is quite a different matter from whether the use is cor rect. Th e right response it seems, is to say that the c ommunity (or at le ast the ma jority of the co mmunity ) is using the word incorre ctly despite the fac t that most o f the memb ers would agree that so using the word is cor rect. If Kripke is right, though, it wouldn = t make sense to say that the c ommunity was using the word incorre ctly The only case, by the ligh ts of this a ccount, in which it makes sense to say tha t someone is using a word incorrectly is one in which a member of a community use s a word in a way that does not agree with the way that most of the other me mbers use it. The account cannot be modified to respect this intuition by invoking a privileged subset of the community with which ag reement in behavior will serve as a standard of correctness. For in claiming that this subset is somehow privileged, it is tacitly be ing claimed that the members of the subse t use word s corre ctly This pre supposes a standar d of corr ectness that does not appea l to communal agree ment, con trary to the initi al claim. If the considerations from the pr evious chapter about private languag es are correct, then there is further reason to reject the idea that agreement with a community determines which actions a re in ac cordanc e with a r ule. I t was sug gested that the p roper r eading of Wittge nstein = s comments on private language doe s not preclude isolated individuals from using languag e. Even

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if Wittgenstein had been claiming that phy sically isolated individuals couldn = t use a language, there would be little reason to think that this is so. Surely Robinson Crusoe didn = t lose the a bility to speak English upon being shipwrecked! K ripke appreciates this, and tries to make an allowanc e for ca ses like th at of Crus oe. His pr ovision fo r this allo wance, though, seems implausible. Crusoe speaks English regardless of whe ther he is being considered as a member of some broader English-speaking c ommunity. Moreover, it seems possible that an isolated individua l could de velop a no vel lang uage, so that the re would be no comm unity to conside r him a member of. Kripke = s allowan ce for Cr usoe, as i nterpre ted in the previous chapter doesn = t extend to c ases like this, nor c an it, for to allow c ases like this would b e to deny the cent ral clai m of Kripke = s a cc ou nt : t ha t r ul efo ll ow in g ( an d l an gu ag e) is es se nt ia ll y a s oc ia l a ct iv it y. Nevertheless, the apparent conce ivability of an isolated user of la nguage speaks strong ly for the view that rule-following behavior does not require a community. Finally there i s the ques tion of whe ther Kri pke has so lved the s keptica l problem a t all. The problem arose initially due to an inability to establish whether a spe aker meant addition or qu ad di ti on by > plus = Kripke = s solution is to deny that there are a ny facts whic h establish this, and claim ra ther tha t there a re instea d conditio ns of war ranted a ssertion. Communal a greem ent is supposed to play a larg e role he re, allo wing fo r the war ranted a ssertion o f claims s uch as A S me an t a dd it io n b y > plus = @ Just how this is supposed to work, th ough, is unclear That a community agr ees on the answer to the question A What is 68 plu s 57?" migh t make it th e case that no member would disagree with the answer g iven by one of his pee rs, but does it warrant the cl ai m t ha t a ny m em be r m ea ns ad di ti on by > plus = rather than another function? Consider what Kripk e says on t he mat ter of third -perso n ascri ptio ns of m eanin g:

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2 Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982 p.91. 3 Among those who have at one time or another expressed suppor t for dispositionalism are Simon Blackburn in The Individual Strikes Ba ck, Synthese vol. 58, 1 984; Paul Co ates in A Kripke = s Skeptical Paradox, Mind vol. 95 no 377, Janua ry 1986; an d Paul Hor wich in A Meaning Use, an d Truth @ Mind vol. 104, no. 414, April, 1995. Smith wi ll ju dg e J on es to me an ad di ti on by > plus = only if he judge s that Jone = s answer s to partic ular add ition prob lems ag ree with those he is inclined to give, or, if they occasionally disag ree, he can interpret Jones as at least following the proper proc edure Y If Jones consi stently fails to g ive resp onses in a greem ent (in thi s broad se nse) with Smith = s, Smith will judge that he does not mean ad di ti on by > plus = 2 If Jones and Smith both were to give the answe r 125 to the above question, then certainly, they would be in a position to say that neither mea nt quaddition. Yet they would not be in a position to say, in virtue of their ag reement, that they both meant addition, or even that they both mean t the same thing. T he skepti c = s problem still rema ins: it is an open que stion as to whether Smith and Jim me an additi on, or some other fu nction. F urthermo re, it is un clear ju st how disag reemen t can wa rrant Smit h in claimi ng that Jon es doesn = t mean addition, unless there is some antecedent warrant for asser ting that Smith means addition. Neither is it clear how agreement or disagr eement can warrant any answer to the question of whether Smith or Jones are usin g > plus = consistently with the way that either used it previously. So, in addition to the other worries that have been raised about Kripke = s skeptical solution, the claim that it allows for warran ted asse rtion of th e afore mentione d meaning -claims i s dubious. Dispositio nalism Ta ki ng fr om Wi tt ge ns te in th e n ot io n t ha t f ol lo wi ng a r ul e i s t he ex pr es si on of an ab il it y, some have been inc lined to pu t forth the view that the fac ts which th e ruleskeptic s eeks ar e facts about a speaker = s dispositio n to behav e in cer tain way s. 3 There are several var ieties of this view,

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resulting from the apparent failure of A naive @ dispositionalism to satisfy the normative require ments of me aning. The naiv e view mig ht be state d thus: the fact tha t subject S is disposed to use the sign w in such-a nd-such a way fixes what w means in S = s lexicon So, a speaker means ad di ti on by > plus = just in cas e he is disp osed t o give t he sum of any num bers l inked by the sign > plus = This strategy attempts to solve the worry that a speaker = s past usa ge of a sign doe sn = t uniquely determin e what a speaker means by the sign past usa ge isn = t capab le of d eterm inin g, fo r e xa mp le w he th er a s pe ak er me an s a dd it io n o r s om e q ua dd it io nli ke fu nc ti on by > plus = Kripke presents several arg uments against this view. The A argument from error @ is motivate d in part by Wittgenst ein = s claim (P.I. 258) that the correct use of a sign c annot be based on the suppositio n that A whateve r is goin g to see m right to me is rig ht. @ Corre ctnes s in t he use of a si gn seems to r equire o bjective standar ds the us e must be s ubject to correc tion by others; mi suse must be verifiable. Intuitively one who was disposed to use the sign > plus = in such a w ay as to respond to the question A What is 68 plus 57? @ with the answer > 5 = has made a mistake. The disposition alist theo ry though doesn = t seem to allow for ascriptions of correctness and incorrectness. How S is disposed to use the sign > w = fixes what S me an s b y > w = and so if S is disposed to apply the sign > plus = in the af orement ioned wa y, t hen when ever he does so ap ply it, it cannot be said that h e has mad e a mistak e at all, b ut rathe r, all tha t can be s aid is that his use conform s to a nonstandar d meaning It is howeve r, a fund amental f eature of meani ng that a sign ca n be used correc tly a nd incorr ectly If t he disposi tionalist c annot ac commodat e this notion, then his theory is unsustainable. The di spos itio nalis t may atte mpt t o save his ap proach to th e prob lem by est ablis hing a privileged disposition that serves as the standard for corr ect usage. The communitarian approa ch

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identifies this privileged disposition with the dispositions held by most of the members of a community. Correct use of a sign depends on the subject = s confor mity to the disp ositions of most members to use the term. This is distinguished from the view that Kripke advocate s in several way s. Most impor tantly the comm unity -dispositi on acco unt should b e seen a s a direc t answer to the skept ic = s problem. That being the case, the proponents of this view do not deny as Kripke does, the existence of meaning-facts and truth-c onditions for ascriptions of meaning. Another difference lies in the fact that Kripke = s account does not appeal to how the members of a community would beh ave in som e hy pothetic al situati on. I nstead, c ommunal a greem ent in actual cases is all that is needed for war ranted a ssertions about mea ning. De spite thes e differences, though, worries similar to those off ered for Kripke = s communal-agreement account arise for the communal-disposition account. Again, it seems that a community can go off-track with respe ct to its use of a word. To borrow an example from Boghossian, consider a community which is disposed to use the term > horse = both to refer to horses, and to refer to horselike cows on dark nights. Assume further that, were the members of this community to encounter the horse-like cows during the da ytime, they would be d isposed to call them cows, not horses. T he most na tural re sponse to t his scena rio is to say that the community has made a mistake, and that its application of the word > horse = to the horse -like co ws on dar k nights i s incorr ect. Ac cording to the com munity -dispositi on acco unt, however the ter m > horse = has here a disjunctive meaning: it refer s to either genuine horses, or horse-like cows on dark nights. The community -disposition account suffers from a problem similar to one encountered during the discussion of naive-dispositionalism, namely that at the level of the community, it cannot allow f or ascriptions of correctness or incorre ctness. It can

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only distinguish between diff erent meanings, no one of which has any priority over anothe r. As such, it should be rejected. A natura l respons e to this ob jection is to point out that sy stematic mistakes a re likely only to occur in ce rtain specifiable circumstances. I f these mistake-inducing circumstances ca n be identified, then a set of optimal conditions can be given in which mistakes of the a bove sort will not occur. If we conside r only that aspec t of a person = s dispositio n to use a t erm wher ein these conditions obtain as being relevant for establishing meaning, then an account can be given that will allow for ascriptions of correctness and incorre ctness at both the individual and community level. Notice that in so doing, the dispositionalist no longer needs to appeal to the dispositions of the community. The community -disposition thesis sought to give priority to the dispositions of the community as a way of establishing a set of dispositions to serve as the standard of correctness, but this proved to be unsatisfactory The appeal to optimal conditions seeks to give priority to the dispositions to use terms in specific circumstances referenc e to the community becomes superf luous in this case. In considering those dispositions only under optimal conditions, the dispositionalist needs only to consider individuals, for an individual operating in these conditions is incapable of error The practical difficulty in establishing a set of optimal conditions can for the moment be ignored, for though this would surely be a significant undertaking, ther e are more troubling problems for this view. Were someone to develop a statement of the optimal-conditions version of disposi tionalism, it might lo ok like this : S means m by > w = if, under condition s O S is di sp os ed to ap pl y > w = to m = s This view is, unfortunately, doomed. I t is clear that being tired, distracted, drunk, braindamaged, and so on are conditions in which one would be disposed to make mistakes regarding

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word usage, but a problem arises when one attempts to justify why the conditions that he describ es as opti mal are o ptimal. I t might be claimed t hat past o bservat ion of peo ple under these condition s has show n that the y a re inclin ed to make mistakes i n their us e of wor ds, but this presuppo ses the no tion of co rrectn ess and me aning w ith respe ct to a g iven wor d. The fa ct that a person = s use of a term while tired or distracted diverg es from his use while wide awake and focused doesn = t itself seem to establish that one set of conditions is optimal and the other deficient. If S is di sp os ed to ap pl y > w to m s in C 1 an d i s a ls o d is po se d t o a pp ly > w = to n = s in C 2 what is to j ustify the claim that C 1 repres ents optima l condition s xor that C 2 does? What is to justify the claim that S me an s m by > w = x or th at he me an s n by > w = ? It seems that some prior notion of the tendency of people under certain conditions to make mistakes is needed, lest our de si gn at io n o f o pt im al co nd it io ns be ar bi tr ar y. The task of the dispositionalist is to give necessary and sufficient conditions for a subject = s meaning something by a given si gn comp letely in natura listic ter ms. And this it seems, will requ ire an a ccount of various p syc hologic al phenom ena in be haviora l terms. F or it seem s clear that one = s use of a word is influenced by one = s beliefs, among other things, and the dispositionalist must have some story to tell in this regard likely by specify ing which beliefs (namely, true ones) are required for prope r usage (the possession of which would be an optimal condition). Even assuming that one could specify in a non-question begging wa y, which beliefs a person must have to be operating under optimal conditions (a task tha t seems impossible), he would hav e to furth er give a purely behavior ist acco unt of bel ief. So, th en, it wou ld appea r that a satisfac tory disposition alist acc ount requ ires the v alidation of the en tire beh aviorist p roject. This is a task w ith little ho pe of suc cess.

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Non-Reductive Accounts The dispo sitionalis t seeks to give a r eductive analy sis of mea ning in te rms of na turalistic facts. T his strate gy has been shown to f ace pro blems whic h, if not in surmounta ble, are quite daunting. The most successful portion of Kripke = s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language are those passages which attempt to highlig ht the problems of reductionism. Yet the failure of reductionism should not lead immediately to an embra ce of Kripke = s skeptical solution, or of skepticism about meaning and rule-following. Ther e is another strategy for answering Kripke = s sk ep ti c i n a st ra ig ht fo rw ar d w ay. Kripke does not argue for natura lism, and though his skeptic does not explicitly restrict the search for meaning-f ixing facts to naturalistic ones, that only natur alistic facts are considered in the text implies a presumption in favor of naturalism. Here, > natural ism = means the view that all norma tive clai ms superv ene on pu rely descrip tive, nat ural, non -normati ve fact s. Such fa cts are usually g iven in behavioral terms. In opposition to this view is non-naturalism, which might be described as the claim that there is a cer tain species of fact which has a normative compone nt and is not reducible to a purely natural fact. According to this view, normativity is a primitive feature of the world. What migh t an arg ument for natural ism look like ? One might a rgue th at this is a conceptual truth: genuine facts are by their very nature, wholly desc riptive. Any supposed nonnatural facts would have an irreducible nor mative component, thereby disqualifying them a s candida tes for f acthood. There a re at lea st two prob lems with th is argu ment. I n the firs t place, if by stipulating that fac ts are wholly desc riptive, one means that they are naturalistic, then the argument begs the question ag ainst the non-naturalist. In the second plac e, if > descriptive = is not intended as meani ng the sa me thing as > natural = then it mig ht be possi ble for a non-natu ralist to

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4 What follow s is a red eploy ment of Ma ckie = s argument against objective values. Cf Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong London, 1977, pp.38-42. accept descriptivism. A descriptive claim might be taken to be nothing more than the claim that the world is a certain way Such a thin view of descriptivism leaves room for a descriptive nonnatural ism. Norma tive fac ts might ta ke the fo llowing f orm: A Such-and-such behavior in suchand-such circumstances is permissible. @ Any claim whi ch has thi s form wou ld appea r to be bot h descrip tive and n ormative In a ny e vent, this argume nt from co nceptua l analy sis doesn = t offer good re ason for accept ing the n aturalis t thesis. Another strateg y mig ht be to ap peal to a n argu ment from queerne ss. 4 If no rmative f acts are not r educible to natura l facts, t hen epist emic ac cess to th ese fac ts requir es a spec ial facu lty not required for access to natural fa cts More precisely normative facts would have to be intrinsically motivating, so that upon the rec ognition that one of these facts obtained, an ag ent would be c ompelled to act in a certain way Howeve r, no go od story has been told about this special faculty and there are reasons for thinking that it does not exist. In the absence of a g ood story about how one c an have epistemic access to normative fac ts anyone who postulates irreduc ible norma tive prop erties f lirts with u nverifia bility If i t turned o ut that nor mative cl aims were not verifiable, and one were to accept Ay er = s principle of verification, the result would be that normative claims were meaningless. Yet eve n if one were to deny the principle of verification, the seemingly queer nature of normative properties, so diffe rent from that of any other en tity might be enough to dissuad e someone from postu lating th em. To address the metaphy sical concern first, the principle of economy urges against the postulation of entities beyond what is nece ssary. Postulating normative pr operties which cannot be reduced to natural properties would clutter up one = s ontology a bit, and if the se properties are

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queer, h esitation would be f urther w arrant ed. I t has bee n shown, ho wever, that atte mpts to account for certain normative proper ties and facts by r educing them to natural properties and facts are themselves quite problematic. This is not to say that a complete survey of reductive accounts of meaning has been ac complished here only the more prominent versions have been di sc us se d. Ne ve rt he le ss t he wo rr ie s t ha t h av e b ee n r ai se d a re ge ne ra l e no ug h t o a pp ly t o m an y, if not all, reductive accounts. Kripke = s irreal ism doesn = t seem to be a desira ble alter native to reducti onism. The global n on-fac tualism tha t he advoc ates is a b itter pill t o swallow and it is questionable whether his emphasis on agreeme nt can even allow for warranted a ssertions of correctness. The remaining option, to countena nce some sort of error-theory is even more undesirable. So, while it is true that, all other things being equal, postulating que er properties should be avoided, all things are not, in fact, equal. As for the epistemic concern, consider what suc h a charge would amount to: if an account of a special faculty for epistemic access to normative properties was la cking, then there would be no way to g ive a proper account of a person = s ability to know the truth conditions of normative claims, including claims about meaning and lac king such an account, any judgement about the truth conditions of these claims would appear unjustified. The problem goe s much deeper in a ver y f amiliar w ay : if one c annot kno w the trut h of state ments abo ut meanin g, then it would seem that one could not know the truth of any statement. Worrisome indeed. Yet any one bringing this charge a gainst the non-naturalist has to give reasons for thinking that a) this special faculty is nee ded and b) humans don = t have it. We should ask ourselves whether this poses the same worries for the sort of non-naturalism under conside ration as it does for ethical nonnatural ism. Mack ie was co ncerne d with acc ess to pro perties a nd facts which pos sess A authorita tive pre scriptivi ty @ such tha t the appr eciation of the tru th of some moral fa ct would

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impel a person to act. In contra st, normativity with respect to meaning just amounts to there being c orrect way s of using a term. G iven that a term is m eaning ful, then there a re cer tain fac ts about wha t it is corr ect to ap ply the term t o. This doe sn = t have the mys terious a ppeara nce that so concer ned Mack ie, and th e demand for a spe cial fac ulty seems misg uided in th is case. If th is is right, t hen our a ccess to normative facts of this sort is in no wors e shape t han our a ccess to natural facts. Another argument aga inst non-reductionism might go something like this: by adopting the non-reductionist strategy one will be in a position to respond to the skeptic about meaning with semantic facts. But the response A Because S did mean m by > w =@ is not an a ppropria te response to the que stion of wh at fact j ustifies t he claim t hat A S meant m by > w =@ Such an answer is vac uous. If this s trate gy were to be adopt ed, no thin g inter estin g could be sai d abou t mean ing. Whatever problems the alter native a ccounts h ad, sure ly n one was a s damag ing as th is! Claiming the following does seem a little odd. S meant m by > w = is true i f and only if S meant m by w = Anyone asking for a fact which established the semantic claim would proba bly not be entirely satisfied with this. The non-r eductionist could simply stand firm, and assert that a ny worries that result from this are merely the result of latent reductionist tendencies. Meaning facts, on this view, would be on par with natural facts, and thoug h some may have c oncerns about a correspondence theory of truth, one would not think it so strange to respond to the question o f what fa ct justifie s the cla im A The cat is on the mat @ by appea l to the fact that the cat was on the mat. On the other hand, the non-reductionist does not have to be c ommitted to the view that there are no specifiable conditions for mea ning. All he needs to be committed to is the

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5 Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language Cambridge, 1982, p.112. claim that if there are conditions for speaker or sentence meaning, that these conditions are irreduc ibly normative or intenti onal. A complete account of a non-reductive theor y about normativity is outside the scope of this essay. Howeve r, reasons have been given ( it is hoped) for thinking that this is the proper strategy to adopt. Kripke = s skeptical solution is unconvincing and apparently flawed. In perha ps one of the his most re vealing statemen ts, he wri tes: A What follow s from the se asser tability condition s is not that the answer every one gives to an addition problem is, by definition, the correct one, but rather the platitude that, if ever yone ag rees upon a certain answer, then no one will feel j usti fied i n call ing th e answe r wron g. @ 5 If on e is to take Kripke a t his word, then it wou ld seem that his skeptical solution solves no problem. That no one feels justified in calling an answer wrong is quite a differe nt thing than actually being justified or warranted in making suc h a claim. As such, even if one were to reje ct the truth-conditional theory of meaning, the skeptical solution do esn = t even account for warranted a ssertion of meaning claims. The strategy for any r eductionist will be to explain normative facts in terms of behavioral featur es of spe akers, w hich will li kely be give n in terms o f behavi oral disp ositions. T he most promising disposition al acco unts have been co nsidere d here a nd found w anting. It doe sn = t seem as if it will be possible to develop a dispositional account which will not fall afoul of the worries about the feasibility of the ove rall behaviorist project, and moreover, it seems unlikely that any privileged disposition can be singled out without tacitly appealing to a notion of correctness. For these reasons, a differe nt tack is needed. The strategy being suggested her e is not without its problems, but it is hoped that some of the more obvious objections have been

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addressed here. I n the light of the glaring defic iencies of the alternative theories, the initial unease t hat migh t be exper ienced a t the thoug ht of takin g norma tive fac ts, includ ing sema ntic facts, as irreducible should be mitigated.

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CHAPTER 5 CONCLUDI NG REMARKS At the outset of this work, two questions were raised. The first, exegetica l in nature, was the question of whether Kripke = s reading of Wittgenstein was correc t. In the second chapter the first two-hundred sections of the Investigations were examined in an effort to paint a picture of Wittgenst ein = s later th oughts o n meaning underst anding and rule -followi ng. A co mmon theme emerged: the application conditions for these conc epts are not to be viewed as consisting in the possessio n of some m ental sta te or stan ding in r elations t o some men tal state s. A word d oesn = t get its meaning from some associated mental imag e. Rather, the meaning of a word is to be re ad off of ho w the wor d is used. Si nce not ju st any use of the word is re levant to establish ing its me an in g, th er e m us t b e m or e t o t he st or y th an si mp ly A meaning is use. @ Thus, it emerged that meaning is to be read off of rule-g overned use. The use of a word is bound up with the activities of explaining the use, teaching the use, justify ing the use, and so on. Each of these activities involves the giving of some statement which serves to explain, establish a standard of correc tness or ju stif y. This s tatem ent is the ru le gove rning t he use of the word. Unders tandi ng a rule is not just a matter of being able to cite the rule; one must also be ca pable of behaving according to the dictates of the rule. Now any rule is open to va rious interpretations (which should be seen as the giving of another se ntence elaborating on the orig inal formulation). The worry a rises that there is no privileged interpretation, and as suc h, any act coul d be made to square with any rule. Thus we have the makings of skepticism about rules. B ut Wittgenstein has an immediate answer to this problem: interpretations do not determine the meaning of the rule; instead, the meaning of the rule is given by the way the r ule is used in normative behavior and the reg ularity of the as sociate d behavio r. Wittge nstein doe s not trea t the prob lem broug ht up in

PAGE 76

' 201 of the Investigations as a ser ious concer n that threat ens th e noti on of r ule-f ollo wing. Rather, the problem arises as a consequence of a flawed view of what determines which a ctions accord with a rul e. I t is intere sting tha t Kripke n ever me ntions the interpre tation-vi ew of ru les in his work on Wittgenstein. Instead, he see ms to have interpreted these passages a s a rejection of meaning-fixing facts. Though Wittgenstein may have been a non-factualist, this is certainly not evident i n the pass ages K ripke ci tes. The skep tical solu tion that K ripke at tributes t o Wittgen stein bea rs little r esembla nce to what is written in the Investigations The communal assertability c onditions that form the core of this solutio n seems to stem from a misrea ding of Wi ttgenst ein = s comments on private language. The earliest comments in this regard can be found in 199, and taken in context, the prohibition seems to be n ot on isol ated ru le-fo llow ers, b ut on singl e inst ances o f rule -foll owing. Follo wing a rule is a p ractice and as su ch, is not t he ty pe of thin g that c an happe n just once Moreove r, in later sections of the Investigations Wittgen stein allo ws for iso lated spe akers. T his is pret ty strong evidence that he did not view langua ge as essentially requiring the existence of other speakers with whom one shares a practice which is how he was interpreted by Kripke. The second question at issue in this work was whether or not a viable solution could be found to the problem highlighted by Kripke = s skeptic. It was contended that the ske ptical solution presented by Kripke was unsatisfactory The focus on the agreement be tween members of a community seems wr ongheaded agr eement cannot establish any thing more than the fact that the actions of people do, in practice, agr ee. Moreover, the global non-fa ctualism that the proponent of the skeptical solution seems committed to is a bitter pill to swallow. Looking at the straight answers to the skeptic, significant problems with the more promising versions of reducti onism wer e found. Naive dis positiona lism doesn = t allow for a standard of correctness, a nd

PAGE 77

attempts to focus on the dispositions of a community seems to suffer f rom the same problem on the communal-level. The attempt to give priority to those dispositions under optimal conditions fails in th at optimal condition s can only be estab lished if t here is s ome notion of corr ectness already in place Furthermore, as what a spea ker means by a certain term has something to do with the be liefs tha t he has, t he disposi tionalist n eeds to be in a positio n to give a natura listic analy sis of psy cholog ical ter ms, which i s a task th at isn = t likely to be accomplished. The problems faced by irrealism and reductionism led to the consideration of a nonreductive account. The gene ral strategy goes something like this: Kripke = s skeptic can be given a direct answer as to the question of what fact esta blishes that a s pe ak er me an t s uc han dsu ch by a certain term, but t hese fa cts are not reduc ible to na tural fa cts. Norm ative pr opertie s, accor ding to this account, should be taken as fundamental and on a par with natur al properties. A lot of work is left to be done with respect to fleshing out this account, to be sure. All that has be en done here is to address some of the major concerns that might arg ue against adopting this strategy The problems faced by the alternatives seem to be greate r than those facing non-reductionism, and as such, it should be seen as a viable alternative.

PAGE 78

LI ST OF REFERENCES Ambrose, A. 1979 Wittgensteins Lectures: Cambridge, 1932-1935. Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield. Augusti ne, 1993: Confessions Ind ianapoli s: Hacke tt. Baker G.P., an d P.M.S. Ha cker, 19 80: Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning, Volume 1 of an Analyti cal Comme ntary on th e Philosop hical Inv estigation s. Oxford: B lackwe ll. Baker G.P., an d P.M.S. Ha cker, 19 84: Scepticism, Rules and Language. Oxford: B lackwe ll. Baker G.P., an d P.M.S. Ha cker, 19 85: Wittgenstein: Rules, Grammar and Necessity, Volume 1 of an Analy tical Comm entary on the Philos ophical I nvestiga tions. Oxford: B lackwe ll. Boghossian, P.A. 1989: The Rule-Following Considerations. Mind vol. 98: 507-549. Coates, P. 1986: Kripkes Sceptical Paradox: Normativeness and Meaning. Mind vol.95: 7780. Fogel in, R. 1976: Wittg enstein London: Routledge. Goodman, N. 1951: The Structure of Appearance Cambridg e: Harva rd Unive rsity Press. Hale, B. 1997: Rule-Following, Objectivity and Meaning. in A Companion to the Philosophy of Language Bob Ha le and Cri spin Wrig ht (eds.) Oxford: B lackwe ll. Hume, D. 1993: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. India napolis: H ackett. Kripke, S. 1982: Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridg e: Harva rd Unive rsity Press. Millar, A. 2002: The Normativity of Me aning. Philosophy : The Jou rnal of the Royal Ins titute of Philosophy vol.51: 57-73. Wright, C. 1984: Kripkes Account of the Argument Ag ainst Private Languag e. The Journal of Philosophy vol.81, no.12: 759-777. Wittgenst ein, L 1953: Philosophi cal Inve stigations. G.E.M. Anscombe (trans.), Oxford: Blackw ell. Wittgenst ein, L 1958: The Blue a nd Brown Bo oks. Oxford: B lackwe ll. Wittgenst ein, L 1974: Philosophi cal Gramm ar. R. Rhees (ed.), A. Kenny (trans.), Oxford: Blackw ell.

PAGE 79

Wittgenst ein, L 1974: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness (tra ns.) New York: Routledge.

PAGE 80

BIO GRAPHI CAL SK ETCH Jonathan Robert Hendrix, Jr. was born in Lexington, SC. He graduated from He athwood Hall Episc opal Scho ol in 1997. H e attend ed the Un iversity of South Ca rolina fr om 1997 unti l 2001, majoring in history and philosophy In 2003, he returned to ac ademia as a graduate student in the Dep artment o f Philosoph y a t the Unive rsity of Flori da, compl eting hi s master s thesis in 2007.


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0018241/00001

Material Information

Title: Wittgenstein, Kripkenstein, and the skeptical paradox
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Hendrix, Jon ( Dissertant )
Ludwig, Kirk A. ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007
Copyright Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Philosophy thesis, M.A
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Philosophy
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract: Saul Kripke, in his work Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, presents an interpretation of Ludwig Wittgensteinʻs Philosophical Investigations whereby Wittgenstein is taken to be offering a paradox with respect to language. The paradox, according to Kripke, stems from the nonexistence of facts which establish claims about what a speaker meant by a particular term on a given occasion, and threatens the very possibility or rule-following and language. Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as offering a solution to this problem that rejects truth-conditional semantics and in its place establishes a theory focusing on conditions of warranted assertion. In this thesis, it is argued that Kripkeʹs interpretation of Wittgenstein is incorrect. Examination of the text of the Philosophical Investigations reveals a much more complicated view of language than Kripke offers, and certain passages conflict directly with the interpretation given. This thesis, in addition to the exegetical question of the appropriateness of Kripkeʹs interpretation, is also concerned with the skeptical challenge posed in Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Kripkeʹs skeptical solution to this problem is examined and found wanting in several respects. Once the notion of warranted assertion is spelled out in terms of communal agreement, it becomes clear that Kripke has not answered the skeptic at all, as claims about meaning entail claims about correct use, and communal agreement, a statistical notion, cannot ground such claims. Having found the skeptical solution unsatisfactory, the thesis focuses on direct answers to the skeptic, whereby certain types of fact are submitted as meaning-fixing facts. The most popular of these answers are those which cite a speakerʹs dispositions to behave with respect to a given word in hypothetical situations. There are several different varieties of dispositionalism, and the most prominent are discussed. It is contended that Saul Kripkeʹs objections to dispositionalism are correct, and that no version of dispositionalism can serve as an answer to the skeptic. Dispositionalism is an attempt to reduce semantic facts to behavioral facts. The question is raised as to why this is necessary. It is suggested that there is no prima facie reason to think that semantic or normative facts are unsuitable as answers to Kripkeʹs skeptic, and several objections to non-reductionism are considered and rejected. While a fully developed nonreductive theory is beyond the scope of this thesis, some groundwork is done, paving the way for such a theory.
Abstract: dispositionalism, kripke, meaning, normativity, wittgenstein
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 80 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
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Material Information

Title: Wittgenstein, Kripkenstein, and the skeptical paradox
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Hendrix, Jon ( Dissertant )
Ludwig, Kirk A. ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007
Copyright Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Philosophy thesis, M.A
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Philosophy
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract: Saul Kripke, in his work Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, presents an interpretation of Ludwig Wittgensteinʻs Philosophical Investigations whereby Wittgenstein is taken to be offering a paradox with respect to language. The paradox, according to Kripke, stems from the nonexistence of facts which establish claims about what a speaker meant by a particular term on a given occasion, and threatens the very possibility or rule-following and language. Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as offering a solution to this problem that rejects truth-conditional semantics and in its place establishes a theory focusing on conditions of warranted assertion. In this thesis, it is argued that Kripkeʹs interpretation of Wittgenstein is incorrect. Examination of the text of the Philosophical Investigations reveals a much more complicated view of language than Kripke offers, and certain passages conflict directly with the interpretation given. This thesis, in addition to the exegetical question of the appropriateness of Kripkeʹs interpretation, is also concerned with the skeptical challenge posed in Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Kripkeʹs skeptical solution to this problem is examined and found wanting in several respects. Once the notion of warranted assertion is spelled out in terms of communal agreement, it becomes clear that Kripke has not answered the skeptic at all, as claims about meaning entail claims about correct use, and communal agreement, a statistical notion, cannot ground such claims. Having found the skeptical solution unsatisfactory, the thesis focuses on direct answers to the skeptic, whereby certain types of fact are submitted as meaning-fixing facts. The most popular of these answers are those which cite a speakerʹs dispositions to behave with respect to a given word in hypothetical situations. There are several different varieties of dispositionalism, and the most prominent are discussed. It is contended that Saul Kripkeʹs objections to dispositionalism are correct, and that no version of dispositionalism can serve as an answer to the skeptic. Dispositionalism is an attempt to reduce semantic facts to behavioral facts. The question is raised as to why this is necessary. It is suggested that there is no prima facie reason to think that semantic or normative facts are unsuitable as answers to Kripkeʹs skeptic, and several objections to non-reductionism are considered and rejected. While a fully developed nonreductive theory is beyond the scope of this thesis, some groundwork is done, paving the way for such a theory.
Abstract: dispositionalism, kripke, meaning, normativity, wittgenstein
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 80 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 003874563
System ID: UFE0018241:00001


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WITTGENSTEIN, KRIPKENSTEIN, AND THE SKEPTICAL PARADOX


By

JON HENDRIX
















A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS


UNIVERSITY OF FLOIRDA

2007











TABLE OF CONTENTS

A B STRA CT............................................ ........................ ...... ......... ................

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............................ ..................................... ....... 5

2 WITTGENSTEIN ON MEANING, UNDERSTANDING, AND RULES.........14

Live and D ead Signs.................................. ................................. 14
M meaning as U se........ ........ ............................................. ..........................20
The Language-Game Analogy...................................... ...................... 21
Ostensive Definitions.................... ...............................25
U nderstanding.................................................................................................32
R ule-F follow ing .............................................................................................37

3 KRIPKE'S WITTGENSTEIN AND
THE PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS........................... .................. 40

The Skeptical Paradox.......................... .................................. ...........41
Problems with the Skeptical Paradox Interpretation......................... ..........45
The Skeptical Solution.......................... ............................... 49
Problems with the Skeptical Solution Interpretation.....................................53
Concluding Remarks............................ ...........................57

4 SOLUTIONS TO KRIPKE'S SKEPTICAL PARADOX:
NON-FACTUALISM, REDUCTIONISM,
AND NON-REDUCTIONISM........................... .....................59

Kripke's Skeptical Solution, Revisited....................... ...................... 60
D ispositionalism ........................................................... ............................. ..64
Non-Reductive Accounts............ ........ ...... .......... ........... 69

5 CONCLUDING REMARKS............................ .........................75

LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................78

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH............................. ....... ... ......................80









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

WITTGENSTEIN, KRIPKENSTEIN, AND THE SKEPTICAL PARADOX

By

Jon Hendrix

May 2007

Chair: Kirk Ludwig
Major: Philosophy

Saul Kripke, in his work Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, presents an

interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations whereby Wittgenstein is

taken to be offering a paradox with respect to language. The paradox, according to Kripke, stems

from the nonexistence of facts which establish claims about what a speaker meant by a particular

term on a given occasion, and threatens the very possibility or rule-following and language.

Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as offering a solution to this problem that rejects truth-conditional

semantics and in its place establishes a theory focusing on conditions of warranted assertion. In

this thesis, it is argued that Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein is incorrect. Examination of

the text of the Philosophical Investigations reveals a much more complicated view of language

than Kripke offers, and certain passages conflict directly with the interpretation given.

This thesis, in addition to the exegetical question of the appropriateness of Kripke's

interpretation, is also concerned with the skeptical challenge posed in Wittgenstein on Rules and

Private Language. Kripke's skeptical solution to this problem is examined and found wanting in

several respects. Once the notion of warranted assertion is spelled out in terms of communal

agreement, it becomes clear that Kripke has not answered the skeptic at all, as claims about









meaning entail claims about correct use, and communal agreement, a statistical notion, cannot

ground such claims.

Having found the skeptical solution unsatisfactory, the thesis focuses on direct answers to

the skeptic, whereby certain types of fact are submitted as meaning-fixing facts. The most

popular of these answers are those which cite a speaker's dispositions to behave with respect to a

given word in hypothetical situations. There are several different varieties of dispositionalism,

and the most prominent are discussed. It is contended that Saul Kripke's objections to

dispositionalism are correct, and that no version of dispositionalism can serve as an answer to

the skeptic.

Dispositionalism is an attempt to reduce semantic facts to behavioral facts. The question

is raised as to why this is necessary. It is suggested that there is no prima facie reason to think

that semantic or normative facts are unsuitable as answers to Kripke's skeptic, and several

objections to non-reductionism are considered and rejected. While a fully developed non-

reductive theory is beyond the scope of this thesis, some groundwork is done, paving the way for

such a theory.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

In 1 of the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein presents an account of language

drawn from a passage of St. Augustine's Confessions. In this passage, Augustine recounts how

he learned the meaning of words as a child:

When they (my elders) named some object, and accordingly
moved towards something, I saw this and I grasped that the thing
was called by the sound they uttered when they meant to point it
out. Their intention was shewn by their bodily movements, as it
were the natural language of all peoples: the expression of the face,
the play of the eyes, the movement of other parts of the body, and
the tone of voice which expresses our state of mind in seeking,
having, rejecting, or avoiding something. Thus, as I heard words
repeatedly used in their proper places in various sentences, I
gradually leant to understand what objects they signified; and after
I had trained my mouth to form these signs, I used them to express
my own desires.1

This account has two important features. The first is that words are used to name objects.

If this alone is the function of a word, then it would seem that the meaning of that word is the

object named. Meaningfulness in general, according to this account, is a matter of a word

picking out some object. The second feature is that the learning and teaching of a language is

done ostensively. Understanding of a word rests on observation of its use by competent speakers

of the language, or on a more direct method of explanation, exemplified by pointing towards the

intend object and uttering "This is called 'x'."

That the first feature of the Augustinian account has been found in the writings of other

philosophers subsequent to Augustine, including the early Wittgenstein, testifies to its appeal.



'Augustine, Confessions, 1.8 as recounted in Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical
Investigations 1 footnote 1.









One can see this in the picture theory in the Tractatus.2 Wittgenstein asserts that "simple signs"

have as their meanings the objects that they name.3 According to the Tractatus, the world is

made up of facts: states of affairs which obtain. States of affairs are combinations of objects, and

are represented by propositions, whose structures are isomorphic to the states of affairs that they

represent (and so propositions are facts as well, namely, the fact that their constituents are

arranged in a certain way). Words constitute the elements of a proposition, and name the objects

in the relevant state of affairs, for which they are the counterparts.4 There is some departure from

the Augustinian account in the Tractatus, to be sure. While Wittgenstein takes most of our words

to have as their meaning the objects that they name, he points out that certain words do not seem

to name anything. Logical operators that appear in propositions, for example, don't represent any

object in the world. But these are exceptional.

The Tractatus presents a theory which is much more sophisticated than the account given

in 1. It was, however, developed under some of the same presuppositions about language found

in the primitive account. One of Wittgenstein's goals in the Investigations is to examine these

presuppositions and to expose their failings. The first fifth of the Investigations is dedicated to

this task.5 In addition to challenging these presuppositions, Wittgenstein has a positive goal, that

of offering suggestions that will allow philosophers to properly orient their thinking with respect


2Indeed, in the summary of part I, 19 of Philosophical Grammar, Wittgenstein writes
"My earlier concept of meaning originates in a primitive philosophy of language. Augustine on
the learning of language. He describes a calculus of our language, only not everything that we
call language is this calculus."

3Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. New York, 1974, 3.203.

4Ibid., 4.22.

5This figure comes from Robert Fogelin's Wittgenstein.









to language. In particular, he seeks to dissolve problems that arise from misconceived notions of

meaning and understanding.

The notion that a word's meaning is the object that it picks out rests on a overly simplistic

view of the variety of roles that words can play in a language. In 1, Wittgenstein remarks that

the Augustinian account doesn't take into account the variety of words, but rather focuses on

nouns, names, and to some extent properties. If one considers proper names, then it is easy to see

how this view is motivated. According to a direct-reference theory, a proper name picks out a

unique object, and if a proper name could be said to have a meaning, then it seems sensible that

the meaning just is the object that it names. With a little work, the view could be extended to

apply to regular nouns and adjectives, with the latter being treated as the names of properties, for

example.

If, however, one considers all the different kinds of words that are found in language, it

becomes difficult to maintain this account. Wittgenstein illustrates this in 1 of the

Investigations with the grocery-list example. Imagine a grocer who is handed a slip on which the

words 'five red apples' has been written. The grocer opens the apple drawer, consults a color

chart to match the apples, and counts from one to five, taking an apple out for each number. The

various acts that the grocer performs relevant to the different words is supposed to show the

differences between the types of words in question. The word 'apple' may be used to pick out a

particular type of object, but the word 'five' doesn't seem to be used in the same way.

Having located what he believes to be the primary misunderstanding motivating the

account of meaning that he attributes to Augustine, namely, that all words function as proper

names, Wittgenstein presents an alternative. He connects meaning with use. Meaningfulness in

general is having a use, and the meaning of a particular word is given by the way that the word is









used. Of course, not just any use of a word is relevant. Any theory of meaning must account for

correct and incorrect usage. Mere regularities in the way that words are used do not necessarily

reveal correct usage. They show only how words are, in fact, used. Statements about regularities

only describe word use, they do not prescribe. The implication of this is that there must be rules

that are to be obeyed in order for a use of a word to be correct. Rules, unlike mere regularities,

are prescriptive, and as such are capable of grounding the notion of correctness and incorrectness

with respect to the application of words.

The use of a word in a language, then, is a rule-governed activity. With this consideration

in mind, Wittgenstein draws an analogy between language use and playing chess.6 Here, the

chess pieces correspond with words, and meanings correspond with the rules governing the

appropriate moves of the pieces. This analogy is useful, but one should not take it too far. The

rules governing the use of an individual chess piece are fairly circumscribed, and the variety of

chess pieces is not great. The rules governing the use of individual words, however, are likely to

be much more complex, allowing for a much greater number of "moves" that one can make. The

variety of words exceeds the rather modest variety of chess pieces. Nevertheless, the chess

analogy, though perhaps over simple, is helpful in understanding the view of language in

Wittgenstein's later works. Language is like a game. Language, like games, is an activity

pursued according to certain rules, rules which are not imposed upon it from without, but are

rather the constructs of the community of players. Understanding a language is similar to

understanding chess: as the latter is exhibited in the playing of the game, the former is exhibited

in the speaking of the language.


6Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 31.









To say that meaning is connected with rule-governed use is not strikingly illuminating. A

host of questions arise from such a characterization. What exactly counts as a rule? What does

participation in a rule-governed activity consist in? What is involved in understanding the

demands of a rule? Wittgenstein dedicates a significant portion of the Investigations, from

around 143-242, to questions such as these. Clearly, if one is to have a firm grasp of

Wittgenstein's thoughts on meaning, one must attend to these sections with care. One of the

goals of this thesis, and arguably the most difficult to accomplish, will be to examine these

sections with the aim of arriving at a clear view of Wittgenstein's position on the nature of rules

and rule following, and how these are related to the possibility of meaning. To preview what will

follow: It will be argued that when Wittgenstein speaks of rules, he refers to statements given to

justify, explain, or teach certain behavior. Understanding which actions count as being in

accordance with a rule, according to Wittgenstein, is the ability to engage in certain normative

behavior (such as the aforementioned acts of justification, explanation, and teaching) with

respect to a rule.

Saul Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein's often cryptic remarks on rule-following

have become the focus of an intense scrutiny over the past two decades. According to Kripke,

Wittgenstein was presenting a skeptical paradox regarding language. Not much work is done by

Kripke in attempting to justify this reading of Wittgenstein, but the first sentence of 201 of the

Investigations is specifically singled out: "This was our paradox: no course of action could be

determined by a rule, because any course of action can be made out to accord with the rule." It is

possible, of course, to understand a rule, but to make a mistake as to what the rule requires in a

given situation. What is being suggested here, and in earlier passages of the Investigations, is

more radical than this rather pedestrian observation. One might be inclined to think that a given









rule can be applied or misapplied to a given situation. Correct application of a rule implies the

existence of an interpretation of the rule which determines which actions accord with it. This

interpretation, though, runs into the same problem, and seems to require a further interpretation,

which itself stands in need of an interpretation, and so on ad infinitum.

Wittgenstein gives an example in 185 which can be of some help in illustrating this. A

student of arithmetic has been given a task of writing a series of numbers, starting from 0, and

increasing by 2 at every step. He performs the task well up to 1000, upon which he proceeds by

writing "1004, 1008, 1012, ..." One is inclined to say that the student misunderstood the rule by

which he was supposed to act. Yet it can also be said that he proceeded according to the rule as

he interpreted it. The student was ordered to proceed by the rule "Add 2 to the previous number

in the series," but interpreted the rule as "Add 2 to the previous number in the series up to 1000,

and add 4 following that." So the student, in proceeding by adding 4 after 1000, was acting in

accordance with the rule that interpreted. This case can be generalized: every action can be said

to accord with some rule under some interpretation. This threatens the distinction between

correct and incorrect ways of responding to rules. The concepts of correctness and incorrectness

rest on the notion of an act being in accord or disaccord with a rule, but if the example of 185

shows that any action can be in accord with a rule, then any act can be considered correct.

Furthermore, if any action can be in accord with a rule upon some interpretation, then any act

can similarly be said to violate a rule upon some interpretation. It gets worse: for if meaning is

connected with rule-governed use, but the notion of acting in accordance with a rule is hollow

(as the above example attempts to show), then it would seem that the concept of meaning itself is

unintelligible.









It is considerations such as these that Kripke sees as indicating that Wittgenstein was

presenting a skeptical paradox with respect to meaning. In the third section of his book

Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, he writes

There can be no such thing as meaning anything by any word.
Each new application we make is a leap in the dark; any present
intention could be interpreted so as to accord with anything we
may choose to do. So there can be neither accord, nor conflict.7

Though Kripke does little to show that Wittgenstein truly had this paradox in mind when

he wrote the Investigations, he does offer some independent reasons for thinking that a paradox

of this sort exists. It comes in the form of a challenge from a skeptic regarding the past and

present use of the word 'plus'. The reader is asked to assume that though he has used the word

'plus' and the symbol '+' many times in the past, he has never performed any computations with

numbers larger than 57. When asked to compute '68+57' he responds that the answer is '125'.

The skeptic challenges this answer, and claims that the correct response is '5'. The skeptic claims

that in the past, 'plus' and '+' were used not to denote the function plus, but rather, the function

quus. Kripke's skeptic defines quus as follows:

x oy = x + y, ifx,y < 57
= 5 otherwise.8

By hypothesis, every action that was undertaken in the past in which 'plus' or '+' was

used is compatible with the person's having meant quus instead of plus. The question is whether

any fact can be found that establishes that the answer of' 125' to the problem given is the right

one. The skeptic claims that no fact, behavioral or mental, about the past usage of these terms

can be found to establish that one meant plus rather than quus, or that '125' is indeed the right

Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982, p.55.

8Ibid., p.9.









answer to '68+57'. Kripke sees the upshot of this as devastating: "Wittgenstein's main problem is

that it appears that he has shown all language, all concept formation, to be impossible, indeed

unintelligible."9

Of course, any argument that purports to show that language is impossible will be self-

refuting. Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as offering a solution to the skeptic, but a solution which

grants the skeptic's premise. According to Kripke, Wittgenstein denies the existence of meaning-

fixing facts. He is able to reject the skeptic's conclusion because he rejects a picture of language

according to which claims about meaning have truth-conditions, that is, admit of evaluation as

true or false. There are no facts which make true claims of the sort "S meant m by 'w'", but this

does not show that language is impossible.

Two important questions emerge from this. First, is Kripke right in thinking that

Wittgenstein presents a skeptical paradox in the Investigations? As Kripke drew from

Wittgenstein's comments on rule-following, a study of sections 143-242 should help

illuminate this question. Again, as a preview, I will contend that though Wittgenstein does

attempt to show that there is a problem with a particular view of what it is to follow a rule, that

he does not present the skeptical paradox Kripke describes. The second question to consider is

whether Kripke's skeptical solution to the problem, considered independently of whether it is

properly attributable to Wittgenstein, is tenable. Once this solution is spelled out, I will argue

that it is not a satisfactory answer to the skeptic.

Finally, I will consider alternative answers to the skeptic. One of the most common

responses is to offer up facts about the dispositions of a speaker, or the dispositions of a select

group of speakers, as those which establish the meaning of a term. Such a strategy is reductive,

9Ibid., p.62.









insofar as it is an attempt to ground semantic or normative facts and explain them by reference to

purely naturalistic facts about behavior. There are several versions of dispositionalism, each

attempting to identify a particular sort of disposition as the meaning-fixing one. I will argue that

none of the more prominent versions succeed, and that no version can answer the skeptic.

However, the failure of Kripke's response as well as that of the reductivist should not lead to an

adoption of skepticism. In chapter 4, I suggest a fourth way of responding that is non-reductive

and denies both the skeptic's premises and his conclusion.









CHAPTER 2
WITTGENSTEIN ON MEANING, UNDERSTANDING, AND RULES

The purpose of this chapter is to develop a better understanding of Wittgenstein's views

on meaning, understanding, and rule-following, in the hopes that this will provide the

ammunition for an attack on Kripke's interpretation of the Investigations. Getting clear on

Wittgenstein's comments on meaning and understanding is essential for understanding his views

on private languages and rules. Of particular importance are Wittgenstein's claims that a word's

meaning is connected with its use, and that understanding is a practice rather than a mental state.

In what follows, I will elaborate on these claims and the reasons for holding them.

Live and Dead Signs

In the first few pages of The Blue Book and in 432 of the Philosophical Investigations,

Wittgenstein asks what it is that distinguishes the "live" signs of language from the "dead" signs

that are found in nature. A sign is an object characterized by its "shape", broadly speaking. Signs

include such things as written symbols, sounds, and gestures, among other things. There are sign

types and sign tokens, and tokens of a particular type can be either live or dead. Sign types are

neither.

Live signs are meaningful; they are those signs that humans use to communicate with one

another. These signs possess certain features that those not produced by linguistic beings lack,

features which are essential to their use in communication. Whether or not a sign is "live" or

"dead" is not intrinsic to the sign itself. Two sign tokens of the same type, one of which is

produced by a human, and the other by a natural process, can differ in respect to whether they

mean anything. The scribblings of a colleague on a bit of paper having the appearance











Stop

are taken to be meaningful when handed to a person distractedly tapping his foot during a

tedious philosophy lecture. To be precise, this sign would be taken as a command that he cease

his foot-tapping. On the other hand, the marks in a patch of sand made by a traveling snail which

have the exact same appearance, while quite extraordinary, would not be taken as an indication

that the snail meant for someone to stop doing something, or meant anything at all. The signs,

two tokens of the same type, differ with respect to whether or not they mean anything.

Though evidently there must be some property that living signs have that dead signs lack,

characterizing the property is a difficult task. The fact that meaningful signs are produced

exclusively by creatures with mental lives, or by entities standing proxy for minded creatures

(translation devices, video and audio projectors, telegraph machines, e.g.) may lead one to think

that a sign is meaningful only if its use is accompanied by, traceable to, or produces some special

sort of mental activity such as understanding or meaning. Wittgenstein anticipates this

suggestion:

It seems that there are certain definite processes bound up with the
working of language, processes through which alone language can
function. I mean the processes of understanding and meaning. The
signs of our language seem dead without these mental processes;
and it might sem that the only function of the signs is to induce
such processes, and that these are the things we ought really to be
interested in. Thus, if you are asked what is the relation between a
name and the thing it names, you will be inclined to answer that
the relation is a psychological one, and perhaps when you say this
you think in particular of the mechanism of association. 1

If this view is correct, then the property that distinguishes live signs from dead ones is

that of being accompanied by (in one way or another) a special mental process. For the word

'Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue Book. New York, 1960 p. 3.









'red' to be meaningful, then, for example, it would have to be the case that whenever it is uttered,

the speaker has a certain mental state, perhaps that of picturing the color red to himself, and

anyone who understands the sign likewise has that mental state.

Wittgenstein challenges this picture of meaning and understanding by asking the reader

to suppose that the mental process is replaced by a similar outward process. Instead of someone

imagining the color red, suppose he consults a color chart whenever he is called upon to use (be

the use interpretive or expressive2), the word 'red' (for the purposes of this thought experiment, a

consultation should be taken as consisting exclusively of outward behavior, such as the

movement of a finger across the chart from the symbol 'red' to a color patch). This doesn't have

the intuitive force of the original example from the previous paragraph. It doesn't seem that the

outward act of consulting the chart accompanying the utterance suffices to make the word being

used meaningful. Consulting a color chart just following the utterance of the word 'red',

explained in purely behavioral terms, is to be the sort of activity that a well-programed robot

(something that is generally thought not to be capable of understanding) could do.

Wittgenstein's comments on this are a sketchy; some interpretative work is required. The

original thought was that some mental process which coexisted with an utterance or a sign

served to make that utterance or sign meaningful. Wittgenstein then suggests that outward

processes be substituted for mental ones:






2I have borrowed the distinction between interpretative and expressive uses from Alan
Millar's article "The Normativity of Meaning," Philosophy: The Journal of the Royal Institute of
Philosophy, vol. 51 p.57-73. The distinction is intended to capture both passive and active uses
of a word, where the user is a "listener" and a "speaker" respectively.









There is one way of avoiding at least partly the occult appearance
of the processes of thinking, and it is, to replace in these processes
any working of the imagination by acts of looking at real objects.3

Shortly following this passage, he shifts and speaks of a substitution of the objects of

these processes, specifically painted images and mental images respectively:

If the meaning of the sign... is an image built up in our minds when
we see or hear the sign, then first let us adopt the method we just
described of replacing this mental image by some outward object
seen, e.g. a painted or modeled image.4

Presumably, he felt that the actions involved were similar enough to justify this shift in

focus from processes to objects, that the only relevant difference between imagining a color and

picking out a color patch on a chart was the type of image involved. Whether this move is in fact

warranted or not is debatable. For now, this concern should be put aside in favor of getting clear

on other aspects of Wittgenstein's reasoning in this matter.

In The Blue Book, Wittgenstein claims that a painted image fails to "impart any life to the

sentence"5 that it accompanies. This view can be fleshed out as follows. A swatch of red is not,

on its own, meaningful. It may be used in communication, certainly, but in any instance where it

is, there is some feature of the context which makes it meaningful. In this way, the swatch has

the same status as a word divorced from whatever property makes it meaningful; it is, in short,

dead. Substituting the swatch for a mental image has the effect of placing on it the burden of

making the utterance of the word 'red' meaningful, and this, according to the view in question, is

something that a dead sign cannot do.


3Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue Book. New York, 1960 p. 4.

4Ibid., p.5.

5Ibid.









Under the view in question (allowing for Wittgenstein's focus on the object rather than

the act), a mental image is capable of conferring meaning. The question is what feature of a

mental image gives it this ability. If a dead sign lacks this ability, perhaps the mental image is

itself a live sign. Its being live could not be the result of coexisting with another mental image as

that would result in a regress, for that additional mental image would either be live or dead, and

if dead of no use, and if alive itself requiring, by the same argument, some distinct associated

mental image, and so on. Instead, this life would have to be something intrinsic to the mental

image, and something capable of giving life to dead signs (though how it does this is not at all

clear). Wittgenstein rejects this line of thinking. To say that mental objects have this ability but

to be unable to say how, or to give any in-depth explanation of it, would be to attribute to mental

objects "occult" properties.

The Augustinian account Wittgenstein discusses in 1 may fall prey to the charge that in

appeals to such occult properties. Recall that the central feature of this account was that words

function as names of objects; for a word to have a meaning, is for it to name something. The

relationship between a name and the thing named must be made explicit, and Wittgenstein's

focus on mentalisticc" accounts of understanding and meaning in the opening pages of The Blue

Book indicate that he believes that this relationship is usually taken to be psychological.

Meaning, in the Augustinian sense, would, if the above considerations are correct, involve a

mental process which cannot fully be explained. Any account involving essential but mysterious

elements is, of course, at a serious disadvantage, all else being equal, in comparison to an

account involving elements whose natures are entirely explicable. Another approach is needed.

Wittgenstein rejects the possibility that either an outward process or a mental process

accompanying a word can make the word meaningful. He concludes that the mistake is to think









that anything accompanying a word makes it meaningful. The Augustinian account seems to

labor under this mistaken idea, and so should be viewed as suspect. Here can be seen the first

hints that Wittgenstein's account of meaning won't turn out to be very tidy.

In the preceding chapter, another deficiency of the Augustinian account was noted. The

central topic of the first dozen or so passages of the Philosophical Investigations is the rejection

of the oversimplified view that a word's meaning is the object that it names. This view has

proven seductive. It can be found in the works of Frege, Russell, and the early Wittgenstein,

among others.6 The objection to this view is not that it is false that words name objects (though

not in the sense of naming found in the Tractatus, in which a word stands for the object it names

in a representation whose structure is isomorphic with a possible state of affairs), but rather, that

such a characterization doesn't accurately reflect the complexity of natural language.

Augustine, we might say, does describe a system of
communication; only not everything that we call language is this
system. And one has to say this in many cases where the question
arises "Is this an appropriate description or not?" The answer is:
"Yes, it is appropriate, but only for this narrowly circumscribed
region, not for the whole of what you were claiming to describe."'

Of course, if Wittgenstein's comments from The Blue Book are any indication,

Augustine's account still suffers from the mistaken idea that a mental process must accompany

the use of a word in order for the word to be meaningful. The comments here, though, seem to

presuppose that an account of naming has been found which requires no such accompaniment.8


6For further discussion of the influence of the Augustinian account on these thinkers, see
G.P. Baker and M.S. Hacker Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning Part I: Essays. Oxford,
2005, pp. 19-28.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 3.

8See the grocer's list example in 1 for an illustration of what this might look like.









Naming, then, is a perfectly legitimate use of a word. It is not, however, the only

legitimate use. Imperatives, interrogatives, color-terms and logical connectives don't seem to

name anything unless one is to posit a very rich ontology. Yet even if one were to do so, to

describe these words as naming various objects would be to obscure the very different ways in

which they are used. In 11, Wittgenstein compares the corpus of words to tools in a tool-box,

and the variety of functions of words to the variety of functions of the tools within. He writes:

Imagine someone's saying: "All tools serve to modify something.
Thus a hammer modifies the position of a nail, a saw the shape of
a board, and so on." And what is modified by a rule, a glue-pot,
and nails? "Our knowledge of a thing's length, the temperature of
the glue, and the solidity of a box." Would anything be gained by
this assimilation of expressions?9

Saying "All tools serve to modify something" is akin to saying "all words name

something," in that important differences among the relevant body of things are glossed over in

an attempt to provide a uniform characterization which, in the end, is quite uninformative.

Meaning as Use

What is needed is an account of meaning that respects the variety of functions that words may

have. The emphasis that Wittgenstein gives to this points the way to the desired account: the

meaning of a word is determined by the use that word has in communication. This is explicitly

stated in the opening pages of The Blue Book: "But if we had to name anything which is the life

of the sign, we should have to say that it was its use.""1 It is implied in the discussion of the

grocer's list in 1, with the introduction of the notion of a language-game in 7, is made explicit

in the discussion of ostensive definitions of 30: "an ostensive definition explains the use the


'Ibid., 14.

1'Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Blue and Brown Books. Oxford, 1958, p.4.









meaning of a word when the overall role of the word in language is clear," and once again

(though with a bit of caution) in 43: "For a large class of cases though not for all in which

we employ the word "meaning" it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the

language."

The use of a word can be seen as the behavior that occurs before, during, and after its

utterance. Consider the primitive language introduced in 2. One might be inclined to view the

sparse vocabulary of this language ('block', 'pillar', 'slab', 'beam') as consisting of the names of

objects. This seems appropriate as within the context in which language is employed, there are

four types of objects associated with the use of each of the four words. In thinking of these

words as names of objects, though, one would ignore a crucial feature of their use: they function

exclusively as commands. The master builder calls out one of the words when he wishes his

assistant to bring him the corresponding stone. The assistant, upon hearing the master call out,

selects a stone from the appropriate stack, and delivers it to the master. The actions of the master

involving each word, and the assistant's reactions to those, constitute the use in this language of

those words. Meaning is thus tied to a practice which occurs over time a word cannot have a

meaning outside of any such practice. Wittgenstein thus has the makings of an answer to the

question posed at the outset of this chapter: a live sign is one which has a role in the activities of

those who employ it. There must be a regularity in the use of a word for it to be meaningful.

The Language-Game Analogy

In his later writings, Wittgenstein developed an analogy comparing the use of language

to playing a game. He calls the activity in 2 between the master carpenter and his assistant a

language-game. While it is billed as a complete primitive language, it is also a practice that

occurs in complex natural languages. Though this account is a bit simplified, the game that the









master and the assistant plays is one of many different types of activities that can be found in

language. In calling this activity a game, Wittgenstein is making a number of suggestions about

the way a language works.

When one plays a game, one has to abide by certain rules in order to be said to play the

game correctly. Not just any move in chess is appropriate; one cannot, for example, move a rook

diagonally and be said to playing chess properly. So too with language. While meaning is

connected with use, not just any use of a word is correct. For there to be correctness and

incorrectness in word usage, there must be rules of word-usage, and conformity to those rules is

a necessary condition for proper use.

The rules of a game are conventional insofar as they are the products of those who play

the games; the same is true for language. The rules governing word-usage and sentence

formation are not imposed from outside of the system. This idea is explicitly addressed in a later

section of the Philosophical Investigations: "The rules of grammar may be called "arbitrary", if

that is to mean that the aim of grammar is nothing but that of the language."" This view of the

nature of the rules of language represents a significant change in Wittgenstein's thought from his

Tractarian days, when he was inclined to believe that the rules of language were imposed from

without the rules of language were the rules of logic.

The diversity that one finds when one considers the different types of games is mirrored

in the diversity in the various functions of language. In his comments on family resemblances,

Wittgenstein remarks that there is no set of features, nor any one feature that is common to all

games. Presumably, he means that if one were to attempt to give an explanation for the concept

of a game, one could not respond by saying that "A game necessarily has such-and-such

"Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 497.









features" or "anything which has such-and-such features is a game." Now, it isn't at all obvious

that a consideration of the concept 'game' fails to yield necessary conditions some

characteristic or characteristics common to all games. Games, it seems, must be rule-governed

activities. Anything which is not an activity cannot be a game, and it is difficult to conceive of a

game completely lacking in rules. Consider a child playing with blocks, but with no eye for

building a stable structure. The child picks up pieces, stacks some, throws others, and puts others

still in his mouth. Surely the child is playing, but is he playing a game? It is not clear that he is.

Wittgenstein does not go to great lengths to defend this view of games, giving no explicit

examples of a game which is not rule-governed. Perhaps he doesn't need to. It might suffice to

say that games are not, in fact, identified as such in virtue of being rule-governed activities (for

this seems to be a bit too vague of a criterion for most speakers), and that if pressed, a speaker

will be unable to cite those features in virtue of which he makes his determinations.

Assuming that Wittgenstein is correct in his view about family-resemblance concepts,

any attempt to establish necessary and sufficient conditions for such concepts would arbitrarily

exclude certain instances from consideration that should be included in the concept's extension.

What is being suggested is that the set of all games forms an imperfect community12, a

"complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall

similarities, sometimes similarities of detail.""13 The same, he thinks, can be said of language.

One cannot give necessary and sufficient conditions for what counts as a linguistic activity. The

various functions of language are too disparate and resist such an easy classification.

2To borrow a phrase from Nelson Goodman in The Structure ofAppearance. 2nd ed.,
Cambridge, 1966.

"Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 66.









If the concept of a game has indeterminate boundaries, then it might seem that the term

'game' lacks a fixed meaning, and this lack is not the result of the superficial features of

language, but rather, the result of indeterminacy in the rules governing the use of the term. When

one uses the term 'game', one is not acting in accordance with a rule of the form "Apply the term

'game' to all and only those things which have such-and-such features necessarily." Whatever the

rule governing the use of the word 'game' looks like, it must reflect the indeterminate boundaries

of the concept.

To press the point a bit further, consider a potential definition of the word 'game' as a

rule-governed activity. If this definition were to be successful, then the rules governing the use

of the word would seem to leave no room for ambiguity: the word 'game' should be applied to

only those activities which are rule-governed. However, if Wittgenstein is correct, then no such

definition can be given. The "complicated network of similarities" doesn't admit of an analytic

definition, and the rules governing usage must reflect this complexity.

Wittgenstein doesn't think that the inability to give an analytic definition of the word

'game', nor the inability to give a list of rules strictly determining the correct use of the word,

threatens one's ability to understand the word. Neither is one's ability to explain the meaning of

the word threatened; a definition in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions is not required,

rather, all one needs to do is to point out examples and say "These are games." For family-

resemblance concept-terms, ostensive definitions can serve to explain the use of the term. This is

possible insofar as the members of a linguistic community agree in matters of classification and

generalization. That a speaker is unable to specify the network of similarities that unites certain

things under one concept does not impinge upon his ability to classify certain things that fall

under that concept, for having been trained in the use of terms through example, and









participating in what Wittgenstein calls a "shared form of life" with the members of his

community, he will follow the rules for the use of words "blindly", without making a conscious

decision to behave in this way rather than that.14

Wittgenstein doesn't make clear exactly how prevalent he believes family-resemblance

concepts to be. Due to the rather benign appearance of the concepts of language and game, one

might think that many everyday concepts might turn out to lack any essential features, despite

the fact that they have been given (or people have attempted to give them) analytic definitions in

the past. If it turns out that many of the concepts taken to have fixed boundaries are, in fact,

family-resemblance concepts, then many words will not admit of analytic definition.

Ostensive Definitions

While Wittgenstein doesn't claim that there is any one form that the rules of word-usage

must take, the inability to give analytic definitions for family-resemblance concept terms

indicates that ostensive definitions can play an important role in teaching and explaining the use

of words. By examining some of Wittgenstein's comments on ostensive definitions, it should be

possible to draw out his view on the nature of rules in general.

For those terms expressing family-resemblance concepts, pointing to examples can help

establish correct usage of the term. As indicated in the last section, for this form of explanation

to work, a certain degree of agreement amongst members of a linguistic community is required.

For an individual who did not find our way of classifying things under the concept game natural,

ostensive definitions would likely fail. This should not be too troubling, though, as any account

of language presupposes a certain degree of agreement among speakers.



14Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 219.









An ostensive explanation need not be sufficient for explaining the use of only those

words for which an analytic definition might be found wanting. In 28, Wittgenstein gives a

partial list of the types of words for which an ostensive definition can be given: "a proper name,

the name of a colour, the name of a material, a numeral, the name of a point of the compass, and

so on." Numerals, the names of materials, and the points of the compass don't seem to resemble

family-resemblance terms their application requires certain specifiable necessary conditions.

Nevertheless, it is Wittgenstein's belief that not only can such terms be explained through

ostension, but that explanations of this sort are in no way deficient or subordinate to more formal

types of explanation. This view can be found in 28, just following the passage quoted above:

"The definition of the number two, "That is called 'two'" pointing to two nuts is perfectly

exact."

When one explains the use of a word, one gives a sentence (or a number of sentences)

which is intended to show those circumstances in which it is correct to use the word. This

sentence serves as a rule for the use of the word. An ostensive explanation is no different. In

explaining the use of a word, say 'game,' by means of pointing to a number of examples and

saying "This is a game," one has expressed a rule for correct usage of the word.15 This is not to

say that an ostensive definition is the form that the rules for word-usage take. The use of words

for geometric shapes, mathematical operations, and the like words which can be given strict

definitions in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions could be explained in alternative

ways, and perhaps more traditional rules are necessary for closing up those gaps left in language


"Wittgenstein indicates at several points that an explanation of a word's use serves as a
rule for that word's use. Cf The Blue Book, p. 12 (an ostensive definition is a "rule of the usage
of the word" and in 30 of the Philosophical Investigations (an ostensive definition "explains the
use the meaning of a word....").









by ostensive definitions. Yet in many cases, ostensive definitions serve perfectly well as rule for

the use of words.

As Wittgenstein takes the concept of a rule to be a family-resemblance concept, it stands

to reason that there is no one form that rules must have. Yet ostensive definitions can function as

rules for word usage in a great number of cases, more than perhaps was traditionally thought, as

indicated by Wittgenstein's claims that things such as numerals can be defined in this manner.

As a matter of practice, ostensive explanations are often given for words, and it is conceivable

that this may be the only explanation that a speaker has ever been given and the only one that he

is in a position to give in response to a request.

It might be denied that an ostensive definition is capable of filling the role that

Wittgenstein assigns to it. An ostensive definition, one might claim, leaves too much unspecified

in that appealing to a finite number of samples in explaining a word's use doesn't provide a rule

by which the correctness of a word's application in every conceivable instance can be judged.

This worry can be read in at least two ways. In giving an ostensive explanation, only a finite

number of samples can be appealed to. There may be an inclination to say that the rule so given

specifies that the word properly applies to only those objects specifically referred to. This type of

reaction would result from taking the statements used in the explanation (i.e. several statements

of the form "This is F") to be describing the objects in question. If these statements were

descriptive, then indeed, they would not be capable of playing a role in expressing a rule

governing the use of the word in cases beyond those already mentioned. If one points to objects

x,, x2, x3, and x4 and says about each "This is red," as a way of describing some feature of each,

this doesn't justify saying of object x5 that it is red. This is because a description has no

normative import; a true statement describing one object as being a certain way has no bearing









on the truth-value of a statement describing a second object as being that way a descriptive

statement of the form "This is red," when indicating a fire-truck, cannot establish the correctness

of saying "That is red" when indicating any distinct object (the truth value of the second

statement is established independently of the first). However, this is not what happens when one

gives an ostensive definition. One is not describing some feature of an object, but rather

establishing which type of thing it is correct to apply a word to.16 Ostensive definitions are used

in such normative activities such as teaching and justifying, they should not be seen as merely

describing certain entities as being a certain way, but as prescribing correct linguistic behavior.

Against this claim it might be charged that an ostensive definition isn't the sort of thing that can

accomplish such a task that it is a category mistake to think of an ostensive definition as having

a normative component. At best, an ostensive definition gives samples from which a rule

governing the use of a word can be deduced, but the definition itself fails to function as a rule.

Certainly, an ostensive definition does not have the form that is usually expected of a rule. If,

however, the concept of a rule is a family-resemblance concept, then this is not too damning of a

charge. Moreover, it would seem that, for Wittgenstein, developing rules is itself a language

game. A rule is the type of thing that can be appealed to for justification as to why a word was

used in a particular way, used to explain to a novice how a word is properly used, and to serve as

an instrument of evaluation regarding particular instances. An ostensive definition can do any of

these things, and thus seems to have a role in the game of giving rules for word-usage.

The second way of reading the above worry gains a bit more traction, but is, in

Wittgenstein's view, based on a misconception about language, one that has already been


16Cf. Baker and Hacker, Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning, Part I Oxford, 1980,
p.89-90.









discussed, and one that Wittgenstein himself fell prey to in his early years. One may grant that an

ostensive definition provides a standard of correctness in many cases (i.e., that it is not limited to

those instances involved in the definition itself), but that it still leaves many possible cases

unaccounted for. Think of Wittgenstein's example involving the disappearing chair from 80. A

plausible ostensive definition for the word 'chair' would involve only those objects with a certain

degree of temporal permanence. If a person came across a "chair" that repeatedly disappeared

and reappeared, one might be at a loss to say whether or not the thing was properly called a

chair. Normally, chairs don't behave in such a manner and none of those involved in the

explanation of the word 'chair' did. So the rule that he had been operating according to in his use

of the word didn't cover this contingency or many others. But can this be seen as a serious flaw

in the rule? In everyday circumstances, the rule functions as it should, serving as a standard of

correctness and guiding the behavior of speakers. Only in bizarre hypothetical circumstances do

worries arise. So the rules that are available may not determine the correctness of using the term

in every possible case, but they should not be seen as deficient as a result since they do

determine correct uses in actual circumstances.

One who claimed that this indeterminacy was a flaw would be operating under a view of

language whereby linguistic rules are akin to (or identical to) the rules of logic in that they

rigidly determine what is and is not appropriate in every situation. Bob Hale, paraphrasing

Wittgenstein, characterized the view as follows: "following a rule a rule for the use of a word,

say is a matter of traveling along rails which are already laid down and determine its

application in new cases...."1 It is against this view that Wittgenstein's comments on family-


"Bob Hale "Rule-Following, Objectivity, and Meaning," A Companion to the Philosophy
ofLanguage. Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds., Oxford, 1997, p.369.









resemblance concepts and proper names are directed. The fact that a concept like that of a game

may have vague borders does not count against the usefulness of family-resemblance concepts.

Similarly, the fact that the rules for word-usage which come in the form of ostensive definitions

don't determine for every conceivable circumstance how the word is to be applied doesn't mean

that such rules are useless, or even imperfect and serve only to stand proxy for some hidden,

determinate rule.

The analogy between language and a game again proves useful in highlighting some

common misconceptions about language. In 84, the reader is asked to imagine a game "that is

everywhere bounded by rules." Even a very extensive set of deterministic rules could admit of

some doubt, if one was willing to exert one's imagination. One could develop further rules (ones

which governed the original set) that removed this doubt, but even the expanded set would

conceivably admit of some further doubt, if one were inclined to press the issue. One could go

on raising doubts for any set of rules, no matter how extensive and determinate, without end. So,

in terms of there being conceivable situations for which the rules of word-usage do not apply, the

problem of indeterminacy is not one restricted to language, or to the types of rules for word-

usage (specifically, ostensive definitions). No game, nor any rule-governed activity, is immune

to doubt in this sense a sufficiently clever person could come up with a scenario not covered by

the rules. This is not to say that every rule-governed activity is in some sense problematic. As

Wittgenstein remarks in 84, just because someone could imagine a doubt that bypasses the rules

does not mean that those who engage in the activity are in doubt. Just because one can imagine

something having the appearance of a chair which blinks in and out of his vision, which the rules

do not deal with, does not mean that normal people don't fully understand what "chair" means, or

that the practice of calling things by this name is somehow defective. The rules that are available









for the use of the word 'chair' are perfectly satisfactory for those situations that do in fact

commonly obtain.

Ostensive definitions admit of misinterpretation. For example, one might not know

exactly what feature of an object is being indicated in the definition. This is considered in 28: a

listener may witness an ostensive definition involving a gesture towards two nuts and the phrase

"That is called 'two'" and take 'two' to be the name of the particular pair of nuts being pointed to

(rather than understand that what is being conveyed is that the number of the nuts is called

'two'). The rule would have been misinterpreted, and the subsequent behavior of the listener

would reflect this. Yet as was just discussed, the possibility of misinterpretation is not something

unique to ostensive definitions any rule can be misinterpreted. Yet this does raise an interesting

point. In cases where a listener misinterprets a rule, a further rule is necessary to correct him.

This could be done by pointing to more objects with the right feature (say being two of

something) and saying while gesturing to each "This is called 'two', and This is called 'two', and

This is called 'two'" and so on. While as a practical matter this extending of the definition would

likely suffice, it is certainly conceivable that a person could still misinterpret the rule given. In

such a context, a definition might be required specifying exactly what feature it is to which the

word is intended to apply. One might say "This number of things is called 'two'." This

presupposes that the listener already has a grasp of the concept of a number a presupposition

that existed in the original definition given. For it is only if a person grasps the concept of

number will the definition involving the phrase "This is called 'two'" have the right impact. What

this shows is that ostensive definitions rules for word usage do not stand alone. They require a

prior understanding of different aspects of language. They do not provide an exit from the circle

of words, that is, a direct nexus between language and the world.









Understanding

At the outset of this chapter, Wittgenstein's rejection of the characterization of meaning

(by which meaning was taken to be a mental state) was discussed. The sections following 143

of the Investigations are dedicated to the rejection of this characterization of understanding. If

one focuses on the performance of a student as the measure of understanding, it is clear that one

is unable to say that, from a solitary performance which is in keeping with the dictates of the

rule, the student understands the rule. His performance may only accidentally "match up" with

the rule, and so a teacher would need to observe other performances before satisfying himself

that the student understood. Yet it seems that no clear point can be established at which the

student's performances can be said to constitute understanding (inviting a sorites paradox). This

may incline a person to reject the link between understanding and performance, and instead

adopt the view that understanding is a mental state, one that gives rise to the appropriate

performances. This view has some intuitive force, as understanding often seems to happen all at

once, like an awakening of sorts the dawning of an intellectual grasp of some thing. This

consideration does not seem to be compatible with the view that understanding is a matter of

practice.

In response to this, Wittgenstein makes only the briefest of remarks. In 148/9, he asks

whether understanding is the type of thing that comes and goes whether one understands only

when attending to a rule. Wittgenstein is pressing the idea that mental states have the

characteristic of being limited in duration. This is obvious when one considers states such as

pain and pleasure.18 If this suggestion is right, and furthermore, if understanding is a mental


18Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 149 notes (a) and
(b).









state, then understanding is similar to having sensations of pain and pleasure. Intuitively, though,

this is suspect. Understanding isn't necessarily the type of thing that, once had, is always had.

Debilitating injuries can result in a person failing to understand something that they once did,

and of course, there is forgetfulness. But these cases are notable for their effects, indicating that

our notion of understanding is not of a transient mental state. It is assumed that a person

understands rules, say those governing addition, even he is not consciously attending to them,

whereas (and this is not without controversy) pain and pleasure are not taken to last beyond a

person's consciousness of them. The denial of the stability of understanding would have the

result that one "comes to understand" every time he is called upon to apply it, and this seems

wrong.

As a way to salvage this view, one might posit the existence of unconscious mental

states. This would grant some stability to understanding insofar as a person could be said to

understand a rule even when not consciously attending to it, say while attending to something

else, or while sleeping. Worries arise, however, when attempting to characterize these

unconscious mental states. One option is an appeal to "a state of a mental apparatus (perhaps of

the brain) by means of which we explain the manifestations of that knowledge."19 The mental

apparatus might be cashed out in neurophysiological terms, and the state in question can be seen

as one that causes the person to behave in a certain way. In the case of understanding a rule, the

state would be the one which causes the person to act in accordance with the rule in the right

circumstances. Another way of putting this would be to say that understanding a rule consists in

being in a physical state which gives rise to a behavioral disposition.


19Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 149









Wittgenstein objects to calling the state of a mental apparatus a mental state, as there

would be two separate criteria for it: the physical state itself, and the behavioral manifestations.

Wittgenstein does not develop this criticism in any great detail. One can infer from this passage

that he believes that a mental state should have but one criterion, though he does not explicitly

say what this criterion is. If, however, this account under consideration is correct, then either the

knowledge that a person has the appropriate physical state or the knowledge that a person

behaves in such-and-such a way under certain circumstances would be sufficient for saying that

he understands a given rule. In a parenthetical remark, Wittgenstein alludes to a further problem

with this account, claiming that it makes the mistake of equating the distinction between

conscious mental states and unconscious mental states with that between conscious mental states

and dispositions (as the term is used in 149 indicating a dispositional "state" of the brain). Just

what he has in mind is not abundantly clear, as no effort is made to specify either distinction, but

something like the following seems to be a plausible interpretation. The distinction between

conscious and unconscious mental states that Wittgenstein has in mind might be exemplified by

the distinction between occurrent and non-occurrent beliefs. A non-occurrent belief does not

present itself to the possessor, an occurrent belief does. However, being non-occurrent is not

essential to the belief; it is possible for a person to actively consider a belief which did not

previously present itself. A disposition (again, using the term as Wittgenstein uses it in 149) is a

physical state that causes a person to act in such-and-such a way in response to certain stimuli. It

is not the sort of thing that can present itself to a person (we can't be aware of the neurological

states of our brain at least, not directly). In this sense, an unconscious mental state is not

identical with a disposition, and thus the distinction between conscious and unconscious states

cannot be identical with that between conscious states and dispositions.









It is for these two reasons that Wittgenstein rejects the account of understanding as a

mental state. The alternative offered is that understanding is akin to an ability. This avoids the

problem of duration that faced the mental state account, for one possesses an ability even when

one is not employing that ability. The questions raised at the beginning of this section remain,

however. At what point do performances constitute understanding, and how, on this account, can

the sensation of coming to understand something "in a flash" be explained?

To address the second problem first, one must examine what understanding "in a flash"

amounts to. If a sequence of numbers is taken as an example, understanding in this way might

consist in the grasping of the formula that governs the sequence. But might it not be said that

someone could understand the sequence even if the formula never occurred to him? If

questioned, a person might not be in a position to recite the formula by which their continuation

of a sequence is governed he might, instead, claim that continuing in the way that he does just

"feels" right. Should the predication of understanding be withheld as a result, even if his

performance never varies with respect to the sequence from that of a person who did recite the

formula? Or, alternatively, might one be able to recite the formula, while continuing the

sequence in an incorrect manner? In this latter case, the formula may occur to the person, but not

as the result of proper algebraic thinking, and the formula would be of no use for continuing the

series beyond the sample given. The upshot of these considerations is that, in the case

mentioned, being able to produce a statement of the rule is neither necessary nor sufficient for

understanding. Similar remarks can be made about the vague sensation that is commonly

associated with understanding one can have the sensation, and yet fail to understand (the

sensation was premature, e.g.), and, presumably, one can understand without that sensation

occurring. Take, for instance, the manipulation of dough by the apprentice baker. When he first









attempts to shape dough into a particular shape, the result is likely to be substandard. His

baguettes will probably look like a snake that has swallowed an elephant. The person, at this

early stage, understands that certain techniques are necessary for shaping baguettes, but he fails

to understand entirely how a baguette is properly shaped. There are subtleties that he fails to

grasp. After repetition, he will notice that his product comes out looking right. He may be

inclined to say "Now I get it," but in truth, this claim comes after the fact. He will be unable to

pinpoint any instant in which he progressed from not understanding to understanding, as it was a

gradual change not accompanied by any sensation or belief.

The various phenomena that can be associated with understanding "in a flash" are neither

necessary nor sufficient for understanding. This bolsters Wittgenstein's assertion that

understanding is not a mental process. These phenomena may often accompany understanding,

but are not essential to it. Looking back to the example of the bread-maker, it becomes apparent

that, for Wittgenstein, understanding is not just a matter of being in some mental state. It is,

rather, the mastery of a technique. A person might reflect on his (perhaps hypothetical) actions

and have the sensation of understanding something all at once, but this sensation is not

understanding, but a byproduct of it. The answer to the other question under consideration the

question of when a person can be said to understand can be gleaned from these considerations.

As understanding is a mastery of a technique, a person can be said to understand if he is capable

of using the word in ways that accord with the established rules. If a student, instructed to

develop a series of numbers by writing the next number but one, proceeds to write 1004 after

1000, then there has been a failure of understanding.









Rule-Following

This leads to the discussion of rule-following beginning in 185. Here, Wittgenstein harkens

back to the game introduced in 143 wherein a student is instructed to continue a series of

numbers according to a certain rule (the rule +2'). It is conceivable that the pupil continues the

series perfectly up until a given point, after which his performances would be judged as not in

keeping with the rule given for example, after 1000, he continues the series by writing '1004,

1008, 1012...' When confronted with his mistake, the student contends that he has not deviated

from the rule given, that he has proceeded in the same manner as before. For the student,

proceeding as he did was in keeping with the rule as he understood it writing '1004' after '1000'

seemed correct because he did not take the rule to indicate that he should write the next number

but one after each number. This misunderstanding is quite unusual given the rule in question; of

this, Wittgenstein remarks: "Such a case would present similarities with one in which a person

naturally reacted to the gesture of pointing with the hand by looking in the direction of the line

from finger-tip to wrist, not from wrist to fingertip."20

This reinforces a point previously discussed, namely, that having a formula in one's

mind, so to speak, is not sufficient for understanding. In this situation, the student can give

expression to the rule that he is supposed to be following, so it would seem that he is thinking of

the rule, but his actions belie misunderstanding. The student has understood the rule '+2' to mean

that he is to add two to the previous number in the set up to 1000, and then to add four thereafter.

This is not what was meant by the rule. Rather, what was meant was that the student should add

two to every previous number in the set, so that regardless of the last number, the next will

always be two greater.

20Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 185.









That this is what was meant is not very controversial, and yet, if someone is asked what

justifies writing '1002' after '1000' given the rule, and not '1004', he may have a difficult time

giving an answer. That such a move is justified seems obvious, but the fact justifying it is

elusive. It might be claimed that upon understanding the rule, one knew in advance which

actions would be in accord with it, and so that in ordering the student to continue the series

according to the rule '+2', the teacher meant for him to write '1002' after '1000'. This claim,

taken in the most literal sense, cannot be true. One does not, upon understanding, actively

consider every possible application of a rule. One might be drawn to this view by the fact that

upon understanding a rule, a person is in a position to act in accordance with the rule without

hesitation in novel situations. This is, of course, misguided. Everyone understands the rule '+2',

but no one has thought of every step in a sequence governed by that rule the set is infinite, and

humans have only a finite capacity for thought. Perhaps one has actively thought of the transition

from 1000 to 1002 according to the rule '+2', but some other example which has not been

actively considered could be produced, and the conviction as to how one should act would

remain. Moreover, an appeal such as this would be a reversion to the mental conception of

meaning and understanding, which Wittgenstein has already rejected on independent grounds.

The notion of a rule involves the determination of correctness, but the elusiveness of the

answer to the question of how they accomplish this might lead one to question whether rules can

determine which actions are correct or incorrect. If a reason cannot be found to justify writing

'1002' after '1000' when given the command to increase the series according to the rule '+2', then

how can the student who writes '1004' be chastised? Some, most notably Saul Kripke, have

taken Wittgenstein to presenting a skeptical paradox with regards rules and language precisely









on grounds of this sort. The next chapter is dedicated to exploring this interpretation of

Wittgenstein's comments.

This brief survey reveals a number of notable things about Wittgenstein's views on

language. The representationalism of the Tractatus is rejected in favor of a much more complex

view of language. Also rejected is the "calculus" conception of the rules governing language: the

rules of language are not necessary in the way that the rules of logic are, they do not govern in

all conceivable cases, and they are the constructs of those who speak the language (i.e., they are

not grounded in anything external to the language). Certain mental conceptions of meaning are

dismissed as invoking "occult" properties in an attempt to avoid confronting serious difficulties;

instead, Wittgenstein connects meaning with rule-governed use, suggesting that the meaning of a

term is to be read off of the role of the term in the language. Similarly, certain mental

conceptions of understanding are dismissed understanding is not to be equated with the

sensation that accompanies learning, nor with any other mental state; in place of these views,

Wittgenstein claims that understanding is an ability, and attributions of understanding are to be

restricted to those capable of correct behavior within the relevant domain.

The complexity of Wittgenstein's views should be quite apparent. It would be folly to think that

one could grasp the principles of the Investigations by examining a few select passages in

isolation. As we shall see in the next chapter, Saul Kripke does just this. With the resources at

hand, it should be possible to show just where Kripke goes astray in his interpretation of

Wittgenstein.









CHAPTER 3
KRIPKE'S WITTGENSTEIN AND THE PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS

The focus of this chapter will be Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein's comments on rule-

following. Kripke's book, Wittgenstein on Rules and Language has proven incredibly influential,

even as many commentators express doubt about the accuracy of its portrayal of Wittgenstein's

later thought. I hope that, as this chapter progresses, a clear picture will emerge of the

differences between the discussion of rules in Wittgenstein's Investigations and Kripke's

interpretation. Neither Kripke's skeptical paradox, nor his skeptical solution to that paradox, I

contend, is properly attributable to Wittgenstein.

One might question the value of such an inquiry. After all, Kripke does write that the

ideas presented in WRL should be thought of as "Witttgenstein's argument as it strikes Kripke,"1

and in doing so, seems to shield himself from charges of inaccuracy in interpretation. To this it

must be said that Kripke only once attempts to distance himself in such a way, and proceeds

throughout the work as if he were offering a straightforward interpretation, and not merely a

novel problem inspired by the writings of another. Furthermore, despite the dismissal by

numerous thinkers of Kripke's interpretation, there are few serious attempts to justify this claim.

Perhaps the fact that this justification would have to be largely exegetical in nature explains this:

exegesis is typically seen as the work of historians, not those interested in fundamental questions

about language. It seems to this writer, though, that this discussion is not without merit, for any

light, however dim, that can be shed on the writings of Wittgenstein is a boon.







'Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Language. Cambridge, 1982, p.5.









The Skeptical Paradox

The discussion of Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein was introduced in the

introductory chapter of this thesis. Recall that a problem seemed to arise when seeking the

justification for the claim that the student who continued the series according to the rule '+2' by

writing "1000, 1004, 1008..." had made an error. Kripke takes this problem to be the basis of a

skeptical paradox with regards to meaning and, more generally, rule-following.

Any action, it might seem, can be made to accord with a given rule if there is some way

of stating the rule which makes the action out to conform with it. The student who continues the

series as previously noted can be said to be acting in accordance with the rule '+2' insofar as he

has interpreted the rule as follows: "add 2 to every number less than 1000, and add 4 to every

number greater than or equal to 1000."2Yet if this is the case, then any continuation of the series

can be said to accord with the rule, and any continuation can similarly be said to conflict with it.

This would seem to undermine appeal to a rule as a standard of correctness indeed, it seems to

destroy the very possibility of the existence of rules. One does not need a fully-developed

account of rules to have the conviction that a rule functions as an arbiter between correct and

incorrect behavior. If it were to turn out that this was impossible, due to the inability to state

coherently how a rule could set a standard of correctness by distinguishing, at least in most

cases, which actions definitely were in accord with it and which actions definitely were not, then

rules would have to be relegated to the realm of fiction.

Kripke highlights the problem in a slightly different way than Wittgenstein. Instead of

asking what justifies the claim that the student has proceeded incorrectly, he constructs a thought


2This is only one possible interpretation of'+2' (out of infinitely many) that the student
could be appealing to.









experiment that puts into doubt the conviction that one's current use of a word is in keeping with

one's past use. Specifically, with regards to the term 'plus', he asks whether the answer '125' to

the question "What is 68 plus 57?" is in keeping with the past usage of the term. By hypothesis,

the subject has never performed addition on numbers greater than 57, and while his past usage is

in consistent with his having meant addition, it is also consistent with his having meant the more

complicated function of quaddition, whose definition is repeated here:

x ey = x+ y, ifx, y< 57
= 5 otherwise.

As the subject's past usage of'plus' and '+' conforms both with the supposition that he

meant addition and with the supposition that he meant quaddition, what fact makes it the case

that he meant one rather than the other? Kripke points out that no instructions that one has

previously given onselfwill suffice, for any such instruction can fall prey to the skeptic's doubt.

Kripke considers the following candidate for instruction with regards the function in question:

when faced with any equation of the form x + y = ?, one is to grab a handful of markers, and

count out one pile equal to the value of x, and another equal to the value of y. The two piles are

then combined and counted, the result being the value sought. Yet the skeptic can call into

question the term 'count'. Perhaps when one gave himself such instructions, one was using the

term 'count' to mean quount, an activity whereby one performs the action associated with

counting if one is joining two heaps that are individually less than 57, but whereby one answers

'5' if either heap is 57 or more. If one indeed was using 'count' in this manner, then the

instructions that he gave himself for 'plus' would dictate that he now answer '5'. Any instructions

that one could cite grounding 'count' as meaning count would fall prey to similar worries.









The challenge, then, is this: can any fact be produced that makes it the case that the claim

that the present usage of 'plus' (whereby the correct answer to the question 'What is 68 plus 57?'

is 125) conforms to past usage (whereby the correct answer is 5)? The considerations of the

preceding paragraph, motivated by Wittgenstein's comments3on rule following, attempt to show

that as any rule can be variously interpreted, and that as no interpretation is in any sense

privileged, nothing in a subject's mental history fixes what one meant. Wittgenstein illustrated

how understanding did not bestow upon a subject knowledge of how to act according to the rule

understood in every possible circumstance, and the rule that the subject might be in a position to

cite as the one he is following is subject to many different interpretations, each, according to the

skeptic, with no better claim than any other to be the "correct" one. So nothing mental seems to

solve the problem.

Of course, there may be other options. Perhaps non-mental facts about a person can

determine what that person means in a given situation. The dispositionalists in particular will

argue something like this. Kripke rejects a dispositional account, and with good reason. This

issue will be investigated in some detail in the next chapter. For now, it is enough to note that the

only facts that Kripke thinks are even candidates for fixing meaning are mental and behavioral,

and neither, he feels, foot the bill.

Having set out in sufficient detail the challenge of the skeptic, Kripke makes some

remarks about the scope of the skeptical paradox:

Given, however, that everything in my mental history is
compatible with the conclusion that I meant plus and with the
conclusion that I meant quus, it is clear that the sceptical challenge
is not really an epistemological one. It purports to show that
nothing in my mental history of past behavior not even what an

3Cf. Philosophical Investigations, 84-86, 185, and 201.









omniscient God would know could establish whether I meant
plus or quus.4

According to Kripke, if the skeptic is successful in showing that there is no fact that

establishes that a subject meant one thing rather than another, then the conclusion to be drawn is

not epistemological. That is, it isn't a matter of not knowing what a subject meant by his use of a

term as a result of not being able to discover a meaning-fixing fact (which may exist, but do so

beyond our ken). Instead, it is Kripke's contention that the inability to find such facts is a result

of the absence of any potential candidates (such as instructions that a subject gives himself) to

justify a claim about what a subject means. This being the case, there simply are no meaning-

fixing facts. Notice how strange the label skeptic appears in this light: Kripke's interlocutor isn't

merely claiming that meaning facts are something that cannot be known rather, he claims that

such facts have no place in metaphysical space. Furthermore, the so-called skeptic takes this

nihilism about meaning-fixing facts to entail nihilism about meaning in general without these

facts, there is no such thing as meaning anything by any word. Once his cards are on the table, it

is clear that he is no skeptic at all. Though the so-called skeptic initiates the discussion by

questioning the possibility of a certain kind of knowledge, he eventually abandons skepticism for

a position that has metaphysical as well as epistemological implications. This position,

moreover, is on much shakier ground than skepticism. The conclusions that there is no such

thing as meaning and, thereby, that language is impossible, cannot be cogently argued for as they

would render any premises that might be brought to bear unjustified. While arguments for

skepticism have been given that suffer from the same problem (for example, the argument from

deceptive senses that is advanced in Meditations II), it is generally granted that some skeptical


4Saul Kripke, Witgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982, p. 21.









arguments exist that do not. No such argument, it seems, could be given for the claim that

language is impossible. Kripke attempts to overcome this problem by insisting that the so-called

skeptic is only raising concerns about a person's past usage of a term, the idea being that there

are no worries about the language being used to establish the problem. This won't work, as the

scope of the conclusion is not limited to language in the past. The label skeptic, then, is not

properly used with respect to Kripke's gadfly. This, though, is a minor observation, and is

tangential to the purposes of this chapter. Kripke never intended the his interlocutor to be

presenting a tenable thesis about language, in any event, as he ultimately attempts to show how

language is possible without the existence of meaning-facts.

Problems with the Skeptical Paradox Interpretation

In a discussion of Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein, there are few better places to

start than at Investigations 201, for it is this passage which Kripke identifies as central to the

project of the Investigations. Kripke quotes the first paragraph of this section at the beginning of

his chapter on the "Wittgensteinian Paradox".

This was our paradox: no course of action could be determined by
a rule, because any course of action can be made out to accord
with the rule. The answer was: if any action can be made out to
accord with the rule, then it can also be made out to conflict with
it. And so there would be neither accord nor conflict here.5

One can see the origins of Kripke's skeptic in this passage, to be sure. What is interesting,

though, is that despite the importance Kripke places on this section, he does not give any

attention to the next paragraph, which reads as follows:

It can be seen that there is a misunderstanding here from the mere
fact that in the course of our argument we give one interpretation
after another; as if each contented us at least for a moment, until

5Ibid., p.7.









we thought of yet another standing behind it. What this shews is
that there is a way of grasping a rule which is not an interpretation,
but which is exhibited in what we call "obeying the rule" and
"going against it" in actual cases.

Hence there is an inclination to say: any action according to the
rule is an interpretation. But we ought to restrict the term
"interpretation" to the substitution of one expression of the rule for
another.

Contrary to Kripke's claim that the skeptical paradox is the central issue of the

Investigations, Wittgenstein appears to dismiss it immediately. The paradox is based on a

misunderstanding of the nature of rules and rule-following, a misunderstanding which

Wittgenstein is attempting to illuminate. Think back, once again, to the student from 185.

When confronted with the student's actions in continuing the series '+2', one is inclined to say

that the student has misunderstood the rule. Instead of understanding it to mean "write the next

but one after every number in the series", he has taken it to mean something like "add 2 to every

number up to 1000, and add 4 thereafter". Both of these alternatives constitute interpretations

(or, in the case of the latter, a misinterpretation) of the rule '+2'; they are different expressions of

the rule. The possibility of many different interpretations, and the seeming lack of a justification

for giving any particular interpretation priority, leads to the worries about rule-following, as we

have seen. But not only does Wittgenstein deny the conclusion that rule-following is impossible,

he denies the conception of rule-following which led to this problem. What Wittgenstein rejects

is the idea that understanding a rule is simply a matter of interpreting it correctly that is, of

being able to give the correct alternative expression of the rule.

During the discussion of ostensive definitions in the last chapter, the role that rules play

in the language-game was briefly touched upon. It was said that rules are used to explain and

justify behavior and to instruct novices about the proper moves to make within the confines of









the game in question. When a person engages in any of these activities, he is playing a game for

which there are rules. One cannot, of course, simply cite some rule one has to cite a rule that

agrees with his actions, for otherwise, his attempts to explain or justify behavior would fail. It is

in this agreement that the meaning of a rule is to be found. To determine the meaning of a word,

Wittgenstein claims that one must examine the way that the word is used what behavior is

associated with it. So too with rules. If one examines the behavior associated with the citation of

a rule, one can determine the actions which count as being in accord with the rule. It is not an

interpretation of a rule that determines what accords with the rule, but rather, the way that the

rule is used the behavior associated with it, that does this. Thus, Wittgenstein writes in 198:

"any interpretation still hangs in the air along with what it interprets, and cannot give it any

support. Interpretations by themselves do not determine meaning."

As mentioned earlier, one of Kripke's theses regarding the Investigations is the claim that

the skeptical paradox is among the central issues of the work. The text does not strongly support

this claim. Wittgenstein does not appear to be advancing a form of skepticism or nihilism as a

thesis which seriously threatens rule-following and language. Instead, he is concerned with a

particular conception of rule-following whereby the connection between a rule and those actions

which accord with it is made by the interpretation given to the rule by a subject. Just as he

rejected mentalistic pictures of meaning and understanding, so to does Wittgenstein reject this

mentalistic picture of rule-following. Having in one's mind a particular formulation of a rule

(that is, a sentence expressing the rule) does not settle once and for all how the rule guides

actions, for any interpretation is subject to further interpretation. Such a conception leads to

absurdity in that it strips rules of their normative character, since it seems to entail that any act

can be made to accord with a rule. So, this conception must be rejected, and in its place









Wittgenstein offers the picture mentioned above: the connection between a rule and those actions

which accord with it is established by custom the regular association of the rule with certain

behavior. Understanding a rule is a matter of being able to make this association in practice. It is

this which is the focus of198-201.

Kripke's attribution of a non-factualism with respect to meaning to Wittgenstein merits

consideration. On the one hand, Wittgenstein would almost certainly agree with the claim that no

facts about a subject's mental history could establish what was meant in a given instance. This

would seem to follow from Wittgenstein's rejection of mentalistic conceptions of meaning,

understanding, and rule-following. On the other, looking at some of Wittgenstein's middle-

period works, especially Philosophical Grammar, it appears that he did accept at least a limited

form of factualism:

"The proposition determines in advance what will make it true."
Certainly, the proposition "p" determines that p must be the case in
order to make it true; and that means:
(the proposition p) = (the proposition that the fact p makes true).
...Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and
reality is to be found in the grammar of the language.6

But is Kripke claiming that Wittgenstein came to deny this by the time he came to write

the Investigations? Perhaps not. When characterizing Wittgenstein's non-factualism, Kripke

appeals to a quote by Michael Dummett: "the Investigations contains implicitly a rejection of the

classical (realist) Frege-Tractatus view that the general form of explanation of meaning is a

statement of the truth conditions."'This is not as sweeping a claim as one attributing a general

non-factualism, and if this is all that Kripke is up to, then there is some truth here. Wittgenstein

6Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Grammar. Oxford, 1974, p.161-2.

Michael Dummett, Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Mathematics. p.348, as quoted in Saul
Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Cambridge, 1982 p.73.









would likely deny that there is any general form that an explanation of meaning must take.

However, it appears that Kripke is after bigger fish, for he claims that Wittgenstein seeks to

overthrow the view that all meaning can be explained in terms of truth conditions and replace it

with an "assertion conditional" theory. Again, there may be some truth to the claim that

Wittgenstein rejects a truth-conditional theory of meaning. If what is meant is that Wittgenstein

rejects the view that "a declarative sentence gets its meaning by virtue of its truth conditions, by

virtue of its correspondence to facts that must obtain if it is true," then this seems right. The

meaning of a declarative sentence comes from the way that the sentence is used from the role

that it plays in the language games in which it figures. But whether he intends to replace truth-

conditional semantics with a theory about assertion conditions is another matter entirely.

Before moving on to this topic, though, it should be asked whether Wittgenstein would

have agreed with Kripke's claim that there are no facts about behavior which can establish what

a speaker meant. As Wittgenstein characterized rule-following as a practice or an activity, and

meaning as connected with use, it would seem as if facts about a person's behavior could, in his

view, establish what a speaker meant. Granted, these facts would not be free from normative

terms, as some of the behavior involved has normative import (that is, the facts being considered

would have to take into account the practices of teaching, explaining, and so on). But there is

nothing obvious in Wittgenstein's writings which explicitly rules out such facts, and their

normative character need not disqualify them from consideration as answers to the skeptic.

The Skeptical Solution

"There can be no such thing as meaning anything by any word. Each new application we

make is a leap in the dark; any present intention could be interpreted so as to accord with









anything we may choose to do. So there can be neither accord, nor conflict."'Thus Kripke begins

the third chapter of his book, in which he outlines what he sees as Wittgenstein's "skeptical

solution" to the skeptical paradox. The notion of a skeptical solution to a skeptical problem

comes from Hume's Enquiry9 Hume famously finds himself faced with a skeptical problem

concerning inductive reasoning, namely, that inductive inferences can be justified neither a

priori, nor a posteriori. Briefly, induction cannot be justified a priori since the denial of the

conclusion of any inducive argument is conceivable while granting the truth of the premises. To

attempt to justify induction through empirical methods begs the question. 0Thus, the skeptic

about induction claims that no inductive inferences are ever justified. Hume does not deny these

points. He does, however, deny that such considerations will "undermine the reasoning of

common life and carry its doubts so far as to destroy all action as well as speculation.""That is,

though those beliefs arrived at through induction cannot be rationally justified, the skeptical

considerations are incapable of affecting them. Humans are by nature compelled to make these

inferences, and so while a skepticism about induction is justified, this skepticism will not have

any effect on practical judgements. Beliefs that are arrived at through induction may not,

according to Hume, be justified, but the compulsion to make these judgements is stronger than

the skepticism which would advocate a rejection of them.

8Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982 p.55.

9Cf David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Indianapolis, 1993,
Section V.

'"One would be, in effect, attempting to justify the principle that one can extrapolate from
observed regularities to unobserved regularities by appeal to observed cases where such
extrapolation proved to be correct.

David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Indianapolis, 1993, Section
V, Part I SBN p.41.









Kripke interprets Wittgenstein as taking a somewhat similar approach to the

aforementioned considerations against meaning. Rather than attempt to refute the claims of the

"skeptic" regarding the non-existence of meaning-fixing facts, Kripke's Wittgenstein agrees, but

with a caveat: "Nevertheless, our ordinary practice or belief is justified because contrary

appearances notwithstanding it need not require the justification the sceptic has shown to be

untenable."'2In other words, Kripke's Wittgenstein accepts the "skeptic's" premise that there are

no meaning-fixing facts, but denies that this entails the impossibility of meaning. Claims of the

sort "S meant m by 'w'" are not justified by some fact about the world, but rather by assertability

conditions. It should be noted, though, that there is a difference between Hume's strategy and

that being attributed to Wittgenstein. Hume concluded that inductive inferences are not justified,

but that this fact was incapable of ending the practice of making such inferences, as this practice

is by nature compelled. Kripke's Wittgenstein, on the other hand, claims that while meaning-

claims cannot be established by appeal to facts, that there are conditions under which their

assertion is warranted. Hume never claims that inductive inferences are warranted, or that some

other watered-down normative predicate can be applied to them, but rather that people are going

to continue making them despite the fact that they cannot be justified.

Kripke initially offers a rather weak description of these conditions as "roughly

specifiable circumstances under which [assertions] are legitimately assertable,""13 though he goes

on the flesh it out somewhat, albeit in a way that, at first glance, makes the skeptical solution

seem implausible:



12Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982, p.66.

13Ibid., p.78.









It is part of our language game of speaking of rules that a speaker
may, without ultimately giving any justification, follow his own
confident inclination that this way (say, responding '125') is the
right way to respond, rather than another way (e.g. responding '5').
That is, the 'assertability conditions' that license an individual to
say that, on a given occasion, he ought to follow his rule this way
rather than that are, ultimately, that he does what he is inclined to
do.14

This should give the reader pause. Kripke appears to be saying that a person is entitled to

claim that his way of behaving accords with a certain rule if he behaves in the manner that he is

inclined to. So, a person who is inclined to give the answer '125' to the question "What is

57+68", and subsequently does so, can claim that he meant addition by '+' (or, perhaps more

accurately, can claim that he understood '+' to mean addition) and, given that, can claim that his

answer is correct. This would seem to have the consequence that any answer to this question

would be correct, if it stemmed from the inclinations of the subject. If the person was inclined to

give the answer '5', then it would be claimed that his use of'+' accorded with its meaning

quaddition, and that his answer accorded with this rule. Yet meaning has a normative

component, and this view saps it of this. If a person were to write down '5' in response to the

question "What is 57+68", the response would not be that the student performed correctly based

upon some interpretation, or that the student's actions were in line with '+' denoting quaddition.

Rather, the student would be chastised for making a mistake, for not understanding the rule

given. Something more must be said on the matter. To this Kripke appeals to Wittgenstein's

brief comments on private language, and adds the condition that the answer given must be

subject to correction by other members of the community:

Jones is entitled, subject to correction by others, provisionally to
say, "I mean addition by 'plus'," whenever he has the feeling of

14Ibid., p.88.









confidence "now I can go on!" that he can give the 'correct'
responses in new cases; and he is entitled, again provisionally and
subject to correction by others, to judge a new response to be
'correct' simply because it is the response he is inclined to give.15

This account places agreement amongst members of a community at the core of meaning.

Of course, agreement of this sort is required for communication. Wittgenstein writes in 240:

"Disputes do not break out... over the question whether a rule has been obeyed or not... That is

part of the framework on which the working of our language is based (for example, in giving

descriptions)." For Wittgenstein, agreement amongst members of a community is a prerequisite

for communication. There is reason to think that he does not think that it plays the central role

assigned to it by Kripke.

Problems with the Skeptical Solution Interpretation

There are some worries about the skeptical solution apart from those arising from the

inappropriateness of the skeptical paradox interpretation. There is little explicit textual evidence

to support the claim that Wittgenstein is advocating replacing truth conditions with assertability

conditions. To begin with, nowhere does Wittgenstein suggest that an individual is licensed to

act, with respect to a rule, in one way rather than another, because he is inclined to do so. In fact,

he seems to say the exact opposite when he remarks that "to think one is obeying a rule is not to

obey a rule."16Of course, this comment precedes a prohibition on private rule following, which

Kripke appeals to in an attempt to salvage this view, but whatever merits it may have on its

own1 it is not supported by Wittgenstein's text.


"Ibid., p.90.

16 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford, 1953, 202.

17See the following chapter.









The communal aspect of Kripke's assertability conditions arises from a misinterpretation

of Wittgenstein's comments on private languages. Kripke views 202 as stating the conclusion

of an argument to the effect that private languages are impossible. Wittgenstein doesn't go out of

his way to make clear just what he means when he speaks of "private" rule-following, but it is

clear that Kripke takes him to be speaking of isolation from a community of speakers (not

necessarily a physical isolation, though this is the form such isolation will usually take). Kripke's

assertability conditions require the presence of a community, making rule-following a

fundamentally social practice. But the passages preceding 202 indicate that Wittgenstein is up

to something different. Understanding a rule, and acting in accordance with it, is a practice. That

is, rule-governed activity exists only insofar as there is a certain regularity between certain

performances and the citation of rules. When Wittgenstein writes in 199 that "It is not possible

that there should have been only one occasion on which only one person obeyed a rule," he is

making a rather simple comment on the nature of rule following: that as a practice, rule-

following requires a history of regularity in behavior. The key portion of this passage is the

restriction against singular occurrences, not a restriction against people in isolation.

Perhaps Kripke hasn't been done justice here. After all, he does write that it does not

follow from the private language argument (as he sees it) that "Robinson Crusoe, isolated on an

island, cannot be said to follow any rules....""Yet his strategy for allowing for this is a bit odd.

The assertability conditions that he attributes to Wittgenstein require communal agreement as the

standard of correctness. If this is right, then an individual who lacks a community will have no

such standard, and without this standard, cannot be said to follow rules. Intuitively, though, this

seems incorrect. A castaway doesn't loose his ability to speak in his native tongue simply

18Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982, p.l 10.









because there are none of his countrymen around to correct him. Kripke's solution to this

problem is to claim that such an individual can be said to follow rules, but only insofar as he is

adopted into a community by those considering him. Being adopted into a community amounts

to being judged by the criteria for rule-following held by the community in question. The criteria

for rule-following, for Kripke, are assertability conditions, at the core of which is communal

agreement. As Kripke wishes to say that Crusoe can be said to speak a language, he must be

thinking that the community doing the judging is the community with which Crusoe's behavior

must agree. Indeed, in a footnote, Kripke characterizes this adoption as attributing the rules of

the community to the individual being evaluated. So Crusoe, when considered by English-

speakers, is subject to correction by a community, though indirectly. His behavior can be judged

as conforming to or violating the rules of the community. However, when Crusoe is "considered

in isolation," none of this is the case. Without the judgement of a community, be it ever so

distant, Crusoe cannot be said to follow rules and, therefore, cannot be said to speak a language.

This seems to have the effect that actual communal assent is not necessary. The fact that

Crusoe's behavior matches up with that of a distant community in such a way as to allow for the

community to judge him would be enough to justify the claim that he speaks English.

This view, though, leads to further problems. Consider two men living in isolation on two

remote islands. Assume that these men have never been taught to speak any language. Now

assume further that over the course of their lives, the men have developed strange behavioral

traits. The behavior of one of these men is such that, were he to be observed by an English-

speaking person, he would be judged to be speaking English to himself. Not only would one

judge that he seems to be speaking English to himself, but his behavior is so sophisticated that

were he to encounter an Englishman, the two would apparently be able to strike up a









conversation, though one limited by certain terms that are unshared due to the differences in

their surroundings (the man on the island, presumably, would not be able to talk about cars and

computers).

Since the islander's behavior matches up with some distant community, he can be said to

speak English. The behavior of the other man also involves vocalizations, but does not

correspond to any known language. His behavior, let's assume, is equally as sophisticated as the

man who seems to speak English. If the above view is right, then for this reason alone, the man

cannot be said to speak a language or follow rules. This doesn't seem right, though. That the one

can be said to speak a language, and the other not, seems to be the result of an accident. It is

conceivable that the second man does do all of these things, but that the rules he follows are

different from those followed by any other community of speakers. That this is so is a reason for

rejecting the view that agreement with others is a necessary condition of rule-following.

There is textual evidence that indicates Wittgenstein did not see his comments on private

languages as prohibiting the development of languages by those in isolation. In Investigations

243, which prior to Kripke was seen as the initial passage of the private-language argument,

Wittgenstein writes:

We could even imagine human beings who spoke only in
monologue; who accompanies their activities by talking to
themselves. An explorer who watched them and listened to their
talk might succeed in translating their language into ours.

The situation described here makes no appeal to communal assent. The speakers in

question should not be viewed as engaged in corrective, educative, or any other sort of normative

behavior amongst one another (their languages need not even be similar), and it is clear that the

explorer is not simply adopting them into his own community. Certainly, to be successful in









translating their language into his own, he must presuppose certain basic things about them,19but

this cannot be all that Kripke has in mind, for in the Crusoe scenario, it was essential that Crusoe

be considered as a full-fledged member of the linguistic community doing the judging. The

explorer doesn't need to consider the speakers he observes as members of his community in

order to say of them that they follow rules and speak languages all he needs to do is watch and

listen for telltale behavioral signs.

Concluding Remarks

Kripke is correct in claiming that Wittgenstein denies the existence of facts about a

speaker's mental history which could establish what a speaker meant by a particular sign on a

given occasion. As Wittgenstein asserts that meaning, understanding, and rule-following are not

mental phenomena, it follows that he would reject the claim that facts about the mind could

establish what one means, whether one understands, and whether one is following a rule. Yet

Kripke goes further and takes these comments as aimed at establishing a general skepticism

about the possibility of rule-following and language. However, Wittgenstein's goal in the

Investigations is to clear up misconceptions that have led to seemingly intractable problems in

philosophy, and his comments around 201 should be read in this light. Wittgenstein makes

clear that the "paradox" surrounding rule-following is not something to be taken seriously, and

results from an unsatisfactory conception of rule-following. Kripke's interpretation does not

appreciate this fact.



19Cf Investigations 185. The type of things to be presupposed would be akin to the
natural reaction to pointing, which is to look in the direction of wrist-to-fingertip. We assume
that our counterpart does not differ from us (to any great extent) with respect to things such as
the way in which he finds it natural to classify things, or the way he responds to natural
indicators.









As stated above, central to the skeptical solution that Kripke ascribes to Wittgenstein is

the view of language and rule-following as essentially social or communal activities. This view

arises from a misreading of Wittgenstein's comments on private languages. Wittgenstein was not

claiming in 199-202 that rule-following does not make sense except in a social setting; rather,

he was making the point that as a practice, rule-following requires a regularity in behavior, and

as such, a rule cannot be followed only once (for no regularity could be established), and cannot

be such that only one person could, in principle, follow it (for the behavioral aspect of rule-

following is, in principle, able to be replicated by others).

Finally, aside from the problems with Kripke's characterization of assertability

conditions, the claim that Wittgenstein was seeking to replace truth-conditional semantics with

talk of assertability conditions doesn't seem to respect the complexity of the view that he was

putting forth. Baker and Hacker sum up this criticism best:

Forcing Wittgenstein into the invented position of constructivism,
intuitionist semantics, assertion-conditions theories, is altogether
misguided. It is a mistake stemming from a hankering after
sweeping generalizations, global confrontations of semantic
theories, and large-scale theory-building. But Wittgenstein builds
no such theories. He does not contend that a language is a
monolithic structure run through with truth-conditions or assertion
conditions which give meanings to sentences and words. It is not a
calculus of rules, either in the form of classical logic or in the form
of intuitionist logic. It is a motley of language-games, an endlessly
variegated form of human activity, interwoven with our lives at
every level.20








20 G.P. Baker and P.M.S Hacker, Scepticism, Rules and Language. Oxford, 1984, p.49.









CHAPTER 4
SOLUTIONS TO KRIPKE'S SKEPTICAL PARADOX:
NON-FACTUALISM, REDUCTIONISM, AND
NON-REDUCTIONISM

In this chapter, I examine several of the more common replies to the skeptic's challenge

about meaning-facts. For the sake of continuity between the previous chapter and the current

one, the first reply that will be discussed will be Kripke's skeptical response. While doubts were

raised in the last chapter about the appropriateness of attributing this view to Wittgenstein, little

was said about the merits of this view itself. At issue here will be Kripke's non-factualism and

the communal aspect of his assertability conditions. At the end of this discussion, reasons for

rejecting this solution should emerge.

Following the discussion of the skeptical solution, traditional direct solutions to the

skeptical challenge will be examined. A straight solution to the skeptic consists in the offering of

a particular type of fact which is supposed to be capable of establishing what a speaker means on

a given occasion. The most common direct responses are variations on the dispositionalist

account. Kripke offers some very compelling reasons for rejecting dispositionalism, but the view

has proven tenacious. While one cannot reasonably hope to, in the course of one essay, put to

rest once and for all any philosophical theory, it can be hoped that clear reasons can be given for

thinking that a particular line of inquiry is troubling enough to warrant setting it aside while

more fruitful avenues are explored. The dispositionalist account seems to have much against it,

and hopefully this will become evident in this chapter.

The dispositionalist attempts to answer the skeptic on the skeptic's terms. Having rejected

the appeal to instructions, the skeptic asks for facts which are naturalistic, that is, facts which

can be given in behavioral terms. It is the unavailability of any suitable naturalistic facts that









prompts Kripke to develop his skeptical solution. It is far from clear, though, that the restriction

to naturalistic facts is well motivated. This chapter, and this thesis, will end with a discussion of

whether non-naturalistic facts might be suitable as a direct response to Kripke's skeptic. Such a

strategy would not be playing by the skeptic's rules, and might not, in the end, bear fruit, but the

possibility will be explored.

Kripke's Skeptical Solution, Revisited

Kripke's non-factualism with respect to meaning results in the view that sentences of the

form "S meant m by 'w'" are not true in virtue of some fact. Instead, claims about what a speaker

meant are justified by reference to the appropriate conditions of assertion, which themselves

make reference to the assent of a community of speakers. There is reason to think, though, that

Kripke's non-factualism doesn't merely extend to sentences attributing meaning. Wright, in his

essay "Kripke's Account of the Argument Against Private Language" and Boghossian, in his

essay "The Rule-Following Considerations," think that Kripke is committed to a "global" non-

factualism, or a rejection of facts simpliciter. The reasoning behind this claim is as follows: the

truth-value of a sentence is determined by the meaning of the sentence and the relevant state-of-

affairs; if there is no fact of the matter with respect to the meaning of a sentence, then there is no

fact of the matter with respect to the truth-value of that sentence.' This has the uncomfortable

result that the truth-value of any sentence, not just ascriptions of meaning, is in part determined

by the conditions of warranted assertion, and not by facts alone. This includes the truth-value of

sentences expressing logical truths ("P V-P"), sentences expressing mathematical equations

("2+3=5"), and the sentence expressing the thesis of global non-factualism itself. This is a


'Cf. Crispin Wright, "Kripke's Account of the Argument Against Private Language" The Journal
of Philosophy vol. 81 no. 12, December 1984, p.769.









striking and somewhat extreme result, and one may be tempted to think that there must be

something wrong with this view. The problem here may be more felt than actual, though, a

shock at the scope of the view. If there is any incoherence here, it is not obvious. The proponent

of global non-factualism can claim that when one talks of truth, one is really speaking of

warranted assertion, and this extends to the thesis of global non-factualism. Any worries that one

might have in this regard stems from continuing to think of truth in purely factual terms.

Perhaps there are reasons for accepting such a view. Kripke, though, seems forced into

accepting this view by his skeptical solution; if it can be shown that the skeptical solution has

other problems, then global non-factualism will have to be recommended on independent

grounds. As it stands, there are further worries about the skeptical solution, ones which stem

from the communitarian aspect of the assertability conditions.

According to Kripke, following a rule does not make sense outside of a community of

practitioners. One can only be said to act according to a rule given that he is inclined to behave

in such and such a way with respect to a given rule and that his community, by and large, would

assent to the correctness of his behavior. Agreement with a community, then, is the mark of

correctness. There can be no such thing as a community as a whole (or at least, a majority of the

community) acting incorrectly with respect to a given rule.

This should raise some eyebrows. Intuitively, a community can get things wrong and

misapply rules. In many contemporary English-speaking areas, the word 'literally' is used by

many members of the community to mean something akin to 'figuratively'. The phrases "It is

literally raining cats and dogs out here", "I am literally freezing to death", "He literally knocked

the hell out of that guy" should not seem too foreign; these, or similar phrases, are bandied about

frequently in everyday use, and not just by the so-called uneducated masses. Now, it might not









be the case that such uses are the most common, but it would not take any great effort of

imagination to think that such could be the case. Now, if such were the case, and assuming that

the history of the English language remained largely unchanged (with the exception that the use

of the word 'literally' as synonymous with 'figuratively' had become more prevalent in recent

years than in fact), would it be appropriate to say that using 'literally' synonymously with

'figuratively' was correct? It can be granted that in this situation, using the word 'literally' in this

way would be effective in communication, but this is quite a different matter from whether the

use is correct. The right response, it seems, is to say that the community (or at least the majority

of the community) is using the word incorrectly, despite the fact that most of the members would

agree that so using the word is correct. If Kripke is right, though, it wouldn't make sense to say

that the community was using the word incorrectly. The only case, by the lights of this account,

in which it makes sense to say that someone is using a word incorrectly is one in which a

member of a community uses a word in a way that does not agree with the way that most of the

other members use it.

The account cannot be modified to respect this intuition by invoking a privileged subset

of the community with which agreement in behavior will serve as a standard of correctness. For

in claiming that this subset is somehow privileged, it is tacitly being claimed that the members of

the subset use words correctly. This presupposes a standard of correctness that does not appeal to

communal agreement, contrary to the initial claim.

If the considerations from the previous chapter about private languages are correct, then

there is further reason to reject the idea that agreement with a community determines which

actions are in accordance with a rule. It was suggested that the proper reading of Wittgenstein's

comments on private language does not preclude isolated individuals from using language. Even









if Wittgenstein had been claiming that physically isolated individuals couldn't use a language,

there would be little reason to think that this is so. Surely Robinson Crusoe didn't lose the ability

to speak English upon being shipwrecked! Kripke appreciates this, and tries to make an

allowance for cases like that of Crusoe. His provision for this allowance, though, seems

implausible. Crusoe speaks English regardless of whether he is being considered as a member of

some broader English-speaking community. Moreover, it seems possible that an isolated

individual could develop a novel language, so that there would be no community to consider him

a member of. Kripke's allowance for Crusoe, as interpreted in the previous chapter, doesn't

extend to cases like this, nor can it, for to allow cases like this would be to deny the central claim

of Kripke's account: that rule-following (and language) is essentially a social activity.

Nevertheless, the apparent conceivability of an isolated user of language speaks strongly for the

view that rule-following behavior does not require a community.

Finally, there is the question of whether Kripke has solved the skeptical problem at all.

The problem arose initially due to an inability to establish whether a speaker meant addition or

quaddition by 'plus'. Kripke's solution is to deny that there are any facts which establish this, and

claim rather that there are instead conditions of warranted assertion. Communal agreement is

supposed to play a large role here, allowing for the warranted assertion of claims such as "S

meant addition by 'plus'." Just how this is supposed to work, though, is unclear. That a

community agrees on the answer to the question "What is 68 plus 57?" might make it the case

that no member would disagree with the answer given by one of his peers, but does it warrant the

claim that any member means addition by 'plus' rather than another function? Consider what

Kripke says on the matter of third-person ascriptions of meaning:









Smith will judge Jones to mean addition by 'plus' only if he judges
that Jone's answers to particular addition problems agree with
those he is inclined to give, or, if they occasionally disagree, he
can interpret Jones as at least following the proper procedure... If
Jones consistently fails to give responses in agreement (in this
broad sense) with Smith's, Smith will judge that he does not mean
addition by 'plus'.2

If Jones and Smith both were to give the answer 125 to the above question, then

certainly, they would be in a position to say that neither meant quaddition. Yet they would not be

in a position to say, in virtue of their agreement, that they both meant addition, or even that they

both meant the same thing. The skeptic's problem still remains: it is an open question as to

whether Smith and Jim mean addition, or some other function. Furthermore, it is unclear just

how disagreement can warrant Smith in claiming that Jones doesn't mean addition, unless there

is some antecedent warrant for asserting that Smith means addition. Neither is it clear how

agreement or disagreement can warrant any answer to the question of whether Smith or Jones are

using 'plus' consistently with the way that either used it previously. So, in addition to the other

worries that have been raised about Kripke's skeptical solution, the claim that it allows for

warranted assertion of the aforementioned meaning-claims is dubious.

Dispositionalism

Taking from Wittgenstein the notion that following a rule is the expression of an ability,

some have been inclined to put forth the view that the facts which the rule-skeptic seeks are facts

about a speaker's disposition to behave in certain ways.3There are several varieties of this view,

2Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982 p.91.

3Among those who have at one time or another expressed support for dispositionalism are
Simon Blackburn in "The Individual Strikes Back," Synthese, vol. 58, 1984; Paul Coates in
"Kripke's Skeptical Paradox," Mind, vol. 95 no. 377, January, 1986; and Paul Horwich in
"Meaning, Use, and Truth" Mind, vol. 104, no. 414, April, 1995.









resulting from the apparent failure of "naive" dispositionalism to satisfy the normative

requirements of meaning. The naive view might be stated thus: the fact that subject S is disposed

to use the sign w in such-and-such away fixes what w means in S's lexicon So, a speaker means

addition by 'plus' just in case he is disposed to give the sum of any numbers linked by the sign

'plus'. This strategy attempts to solve the worry that a speaker's past usage of a sign doesn't

uniquely determine what a speaker means by the sign past usage isn't capable of determining,

for example, whether a speaker means addition or some quaddition-like function by 'plus'.

Kripke presents several arguments against this view. The "argument from error" is motivated in

part by Wittgenstein's claim (P.I. 258) that the correct use of a sign cannot be based on the

supposition that "whatever is going to seem right to me is right." Correctness in the use of a sign

seems to require objective standards the use must be subject to correction by others; misuse

must be verifiable. Intuitively, one who was disposed to use the sign 'plus' in such a way as to

respond to the question "What is 68 plus 57?" with the answer '5' has made a mistake. The

dispositionalist theory, though, doesn't seem to allow for ascriptions of correctness and

incorrectness. How S is disposed to use the sign 'w' fixes what S means by 'w', and so ifS is

disposed to apply the sign 'plus' in the aforementioned way, then whenever he does so apply it, it

cannot be said that he has made a mistake at all, but rather, all that can be said is that his use

conforms to a non-standard meaning. It is, however, a fundamental feature of meaning that a

sign can be used correctly and incorrectly. If the dispositionalist cannot accommodate this

notion, then his theory is unsustainable.

The dispositionalist may attempt to save his approach to the problem by establishing a

privileged disposition that serves as the standard for correct usage. The communitarian approach









identifies this privileged disposition with the dispositions held by most of the members of a

community. Correct use of a sign depends on the subject's conformity to the dispositions of most

members to use the term. This is distinguished from the view that Kripke advocates in several

ways. Most importantly, the community-disposition account should be seen as a direct answer to

the skeptic's problem. That being the case, the proponents of this view do not deny, as Kripke

does, the existence of meaning-facts and truth-conditions for ascriptions of meaning. Another

difference lies in the fact that Kripke's account does not appeal to how the members of a

community would behave in some hypothetical situation. Instead, communal agreement in

actual cases is all that is needed for warranted assertions about meaning. Despite these

differences, though, worries similar to those offered for Kripke's communal-agreement account

arise for the communal-disposition account.

Again, it seems that a community can go off-track with respect to its use of a word. To

borrow an example from Boghossian, consider a community which is disposed to use the term

'horse' both to refer to horses, and to refer to horse-like cows on dark nights. Assume further

that, were the members of this community to encounter the horse-like cows during the daytime,

they would be disposed to call them cows, not horses. The most natural response to this scenario

is to say that the community has made a mistake, and that its application of the word 'horse' to

the horse-like cows on dark nights is incorrect. According to the community-disposition account,

however, the term 'horse' has here a disjunctive meaning: it refers to either genuine horses, or

horse-like cows on dark nights. The community-disposition account suffers from a problem

similar to one encountered during the discussion of naive-dispositionalism, namely, that at the

level of the community, it cannot allow for ascriptions of correctness or incorrectness. It can









only distinguish between different meanings, no one of which has any priority over another. As

such, it should be rejected.

A natural response to this objection is to point out that systematic mistakes are likely

only to occur in certain specifiable circumstances. If these mistake-inducing circumstances can

be identified, then a set of optimal conditions can be given in which mistakes of the above sort

will not occur. If we consider only that aspect of a person's disposition to use a term wherein

these conditions obtain as being relevant for establishing meaning, then an account can be given

that will allow for ascriptions of correctness and incorrectness at both the individual and

community level. Notice that in so doing, the dispositionalist no longer needs to appeal to the

dispositions of the community. The community-disposition thesis sought to give priority to the

dispositions of the community as a way of establishing a set of dispositions to serve as the

standard of correctness, but this proved to be unsatisfactory. The appeal to optimal conditions

seeks to give priority to the dispositions to use terms in specific circumstances reference to the

community becomes superfluous in this case. In considering those dispositions only under

optimal conditions, the dispositionalist needs only to consider individuals, for an individual

operating in these conditions is incapable of error.

The practical difficulty in establishing a set of optimal conditions can for the moment be

ignored, for though this would surely be a significant undertaking, there are more troubling

problems for this view. Were someone to develop a statement of the optimal-conditions version

of dispositionalism, it might look like this:

S means m by 'w' if, under conditions O, S is disposed to apply 'w' to m's

This view is, unfortunately, doomed. It is clear that being tired, distracted, drunk, brain-

damaged, and so on are conditions in which one would be disposed to make mistakes regarding









word usage, but a problem arises when one attempts to justify why the conditions that he

describes as optimal are optimal. It might be claimed that past observation of people under these

conditions has shown that they are inclined to make mistakes in their use of words, but this

presupposes the notion of correctness and meaning with respect to a given word. The fact that a

person's use of a term while tired or distracted diverges from his use while wide awake and

focused doesn't itself seem to establish that one set of conditions is optimal and the other

deficient. IfS is disposed to apply 'w' to m's in C, and is also disposed to apply 'w' to n's in C2,

what is to justify the claim that C, represents optimal conditions xor that C2 does? What is to

justify the claim that S means m by 'w', xor that he means n by 'w'? It seems that some prior

notion of the tendency of people under certain conditions to make mistakes is needed, lest our

designation of optimal conditions be arbitrary.

The task of the dispositionalist is to give necessary and sufficient conditions for a

subject's meaning something by a given sign completely in naturalistic terms. And this, it seems,

will require an account of various psychological phenomena in behavioral terms. For it seems

clear that one's use of a word is influenced by one's beliefs, among other things, and the

dispositionalist must have some story to tell in this regard likely by specifying which beliefs

(namely, true ones) are required for proper usage (the possession of which would be an optimal

condition). Even assuming that one could specify, in a non-question begging way, which beliefs

a person must have to be operating under optimal conditions (a task that seems impossible), he

would have to further give a purely behaviorist account of belief. So, then, it would appear that a

satisfactory dispositionalist account requires the validation of the entire behaviorist project. This

is a task with little hope of success.









Non-Reductive Accounts

The dispositionalist seeks to give a reductive analysis of meaning in terms of naturalistic

facts. This strategy has been shown to face problems which, if not insurmountable, are quite

daunting. The most successful portion of Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language

are those passages which attempt to highlight the problems ofreductionism. Yet the failure of

reductionism should not lead immediately to an embrace of Kripke's skeptical solution, or of

skepticism about meaning and rule-following. There is another strategy for answering Kripke's

skeptic in a straightforward way.

Kripke does not argue for naturalism, and though his skeptic does not explicitly restrict

the search for meaning-fixing facts to naturalistic ones, that only naturalistic facts are considered

in the text implies a presumption in favor of naturalism. Here, 'naturalism', means the view that

all normative claims supervene on purely descriptive, natural, non-normative facts. Such facts

are usually given in behavioral terms. In opposition to this view is non-naturalism, which might

be described as the claim that there is a certain species of fact which has a normative component

and is not reducible to a purely natural fact. According to this view, normativity is a primitive

feature of the world.

What might an argument for naturalism look like? One might argue that this is a

conceptual truth: genuine facts are, by their very nature, wholly descriptive. Any supposed non-

natural facts would have an irreducible normative component, thereby disqualifying them as

candidates for facthood. There are at least two problems with this argument. In the first place, if

by stipulating that facts are wholly descriptive, one means that they are naturalistic, then the

argument begs the question against the non-naturalist. In the second place, if 'descriptive' is not

intended as meaning the same thing as 'natural', then it might be possible for a non-naturalist to









accept descriptivism. A descriptive claim might be taken to be nothing more than the claim that

the world is a certain way. Such a thin view of descriptivism leaves room for a descriptive non-

naturalism. Normative facts might take the following form: "Such-and-such behavior in such-

and-such circumstances is permissible." Any claim which has this form would appear to be both

descriptive and normative. In any event, this argument from conceptual analysis doesn't offer

good reason for accepting the naturalist thesis.

Another strategy might be to appeal to an argument from queerness.4If normative facts

are not reducible to natural facts, then epistemic access to these facts requires a special faculty

not required for access to natural facts More precisely, normative facts would have to be

intrinsically motivating, so that upon the recognition that one of these facts obtained, an agent

would be compelled to act in a certain way. However, no good story has been told about this

special faculty, and there are reasons for thinking that it does not exist. In the absence of a good

story about how one can have epistemic access to normative facts anyone who postulates

irreducible normative properties flirts with unverifiability. If it turned out that normative claims

were not verifiable, and one were to accept Ayer's principle of verification, the result would be

that normative claims were meaningless. Yet even if one were to deny the principle of

verification, the seemingly queer nature of normative properties, so different from that of any

other entity, might be enough to dissuade someone from postulating them.

To address the metaphysical concern first, the principle of economy urges against the

postulation of entities beyond what is necessary. Postulating normative properties which cannot

be reduced to natural properties would clutter up one's ontology a bit, and if these properties are

4What follows is a redeployment of Mackie's argument against objective values. Cf
EthiL Inventing Right and Wrong, London, 1977, pp.38-42.









queer, hesitation would be further warranted. It has been shown, however, that attempts to

account for certain normative properties and facts by reducing them to natural properties and

facts are themselves quite problematic. This is not to say that a complete survey of reductive

accounts of meaning has been accomplished here only the more prominent versions have been

discussed. Nevertheless, the worries that have been raised are general enough to apply to many,

if not all, reductive accounts. Kripke's irrealism doesn't seem to be a desirable alternative to

reductionism. The global non-factualism that he advocates is a bitter pill to swallow, and it is

questionable whether his emphasis on agreement can even allow for warranted assertions of

correctness. The remaining option, to countenance some sort of error-theory, is even more

undesirable. So, while it is true that, all other things being equal, postulating queer properties

should be avoided, all things are not, in fact, equal.

As for the epistemic concern, consider what such a charge would amount to: if an

account of a special faculty for epistemic access to normative properties was lacking, then there

would be no way to give a proper account of a person's ability to know the truth conditions of

normative claims, including claims about meaning and lacking such an account, any judgement

about the truth conditions of these claims would appear unjustified. The problem goes much

deeper, in a very familiar way: if one cannot know the truth of statements about meaning, then it

would seem that one could not know the truth of any statement. Worrisome indeed. Yet anyone

bringing this charge against the non-naturalist has to give reasons for thinking that a) this special

faculty is needed and b) humans don't have it. We should ask ourselves whether this poses the

same worries for the sort of non-naturalism under consideration as it does for ethical non-

naturalism. Mackie was concerned with access to properties and facts which possess

"authoritative prescriptivity", such that the appreciation of the truth of some moral fact would









impel a person to act. In contrast, normativity with respect to meaning just amounts to there

being correct ways of using a term. Given that a term is meaningful, then there are certain facts

about what it is correct to apply the term to. This doesn't have the mysterious appearance that so

concerned Mackie, and the demand for a special faculty seems misguided in this case. If this is

right, then our access to normative facts of this sort is in no worse shape than our access to

natural facts.

Another argument against non-reductionism might go something like this: by adopting

the non-reductionist strategy, one will be in a position to respond to the skeptic about meaning

with semantic facts. But the response "Because S did mean m by 'w'" is not an appropriate

response to the question of what fact justifies the claim that "S meant m by 'w'". Such an answer

is vacuous. If this strategy were to be adopted, nothing interesting could be said about meaning.

Whatever problems the alternative accounts had, surely none was as damaging as this!

Claiming the following does seem a little odd.

"S meant m by 'w'" is true if and only ifS meant m by'w'

Anyone asking for a fact which established the semantic claim would probably not be

entirely satisfied with this. The non-reductionist could simply stand firm, and assert that any

worries that result from this are merely the result of latent reductionist tendencies. Meaning

facts, on this view, would be on par with natural facts, and though some may have concerns

about a correspondence theory of truth, one would not think it so strange to respond to the

question of what fact justifies the claim "The cat is on the mat" by appeal to the fact that the cat

was on the mat. On the other hand, the non-reductionist does not have to be committed to the

view that there are no specifiable conditions for meaning. All he needs to be committed to is the









claim that if there are conditions for speaker or sentence meaning, that these conditions are

irreducibly normative or intentional.

A complete account of a non-reductive theory about normativity is outside the scope of

this essay. However, reasons have been given (it is hoped) for thinking that this is the proper

strategy to adopt. Kripke's skeptical solution is unconvincing and apparently flawed. In perhaps

one of the his most revealing statements, he writes: "What follows from these assertability

conditions is not that the answer everyone gives to an addition problem is, by definition, the

correct one, but rather the platitude that, if everyone agrees upon a certain answer, then no one

will feel justified in calling the answer wrong."5If one is to take Kripke at his word, then it would

seem that his skeptical solution solves no problem. That no one feels justified in calling an

answer wrong is quite a different thing than actually being justified or warranted in making such

a claim. As such, even if one were to reject the truth-conditional theory of meaning, the skeptical

solution doesn't even account for warranted assertion of meaning claims.

The strategy for any reductionist will be to explain normative facts in terms of behavioral

features of speakers, which will likely be given in terms of behavioral dispositions. The most

promising dispositional accounts have been considered here and found wanting. It doesn't seem

as if it will be possible to develop a dispositional account which will not fall afoul of the worries

about the feasibility of the overall behaviorist project, and moreover, it seems unlikely that any

privileged disposition can be singled out without tacitly appealing to a notion of correctness.

For these reasons, a different tack is needed. The strategy being suggested here is not

without its problems, but it is hoped that some of the more obvious objections have been


5Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Cambridge, 1982, p.l 12.









addressed here. In the light of the glaring deficiencies of the alternative theories, the initial

unease that might be experienced at the thought of taking normative facts, including semantic

facts, as irreducible should be mitigated.









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUDING REMARKS

At the outset of this work, two questions were raised. The first, exegetical in nature, was

the question of whether Kripke's reading of Wittgenstein was correct. In the second chapter, the

first two-hundred sections of the Investigations were examined in an effort to paint a picture of

Wittgenstein's later thoughts on meaning, understanding, and rule-following. A common theme

emerged: the application conditions for these concepts are not to be viewed as consisting in the

possession of some mental state or standing in relations to some mental states. A word doesn't

get its meaning from some associated mental image. Rather, the meaning of a word is to be read

off of how the word is used. Since not just any use of the word is relevant to establishing its

meaning, there must be more to the story than simply "meaning is use." Thus, it emerged that

meaning is to be read off of rule-governed use. The use of a word is bound up with the activities

of explaining the use, teaching the use, justifying the use, and so on. Each of these activities

involves the giving of some statement which serves to explain, establish a standard of

correctness, or justify. This statement is the rule governing the use of the word. Understanding a

rule is not just a matter of being able to cite the rule; one must also be capable of behaving

according to the dictates of the rule. Now, any rule is open to various interpretations (which

should be seen as the giving of another sentence elaborating on the original formulation). The

worry arises that there is no privileged interpretation, and as such, any act could be made to

square with any rule. Thus we have the makings of skepticism about rules. But Wittgenstein has

an immediate answer to this problem: interpretations do not determine the meaning of the rule;

instead, the meaning of the rule is given by the way the rule is used in normative behavior and

the regularity of the associated behavior. Wittgenstein does not treat the problem brought up in









201 of the Investigations as a serious concern that threatens the notion of rule-following.

Rather, the problem arises as a consequence of a flawed view of what determines which actions

accord with a rule. It is interesting that Kripke never mentions the interpretation-view of rules in

his work on Wittgenstein. Instead, he seems to have interpreted these passages as a rejection of

meaning-fixing facts. Though Wittgenstein may have been a non-factualist, this is certainly not

evident in the passages Kripke cites.

The skeptical solution that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein bears little resemblance to

what is written in the Investigations. The communal assertability conditions that form the core of

this solution seems to stem from a misreading of Wittgenstein's comments on private language.

The earliest comments in this regard can be found in 199, and taken in context, the prohibition

seems to be not on isolated rule-followers, but on single instances of rule-following. Following a

rule is a practice, and as such, is not the type of thing that can happen just once. Moreover, in

later sections of the Investigations, Wittgenstein allows for isolated speakers. This is pretty

strong evidence that he did not view language as essentially requiring the existence of other

speakers with whom one shares a practice, which is how he was interpreted by Kripke.

The second question at issue in this work was whether or not a viable solution could be

found to the problem highlighted by Kripke's skeptic. It was contended that the skeptical

solution presented by Kripke was unsatisfactory. The focus on the agreement between members

of a community seems wrongheaded agreement cannot establish anything more than the fact

that the actions of people do, in practice, agree. Moreover, the global non-factualism that the

proponent of the skeptical solution seems committed to is a bitter pill to swallow. Looking at the

straight answers to the skeptic, significant problems with the more promising versions of

reductionism were found. Naive dispositionalism doesn't allow for a standard of correctness, and









attempts to focus on the dispositions of a community seems to suffer from the same problem on

the communal-level. The attempt to give priority to those dispositions under optimal conditions

fails in that optimal conditions can only be established if there is some notion of correctness

already in place Furthermore, as what a speaker means by a certain term has something to do

with the beliefs that he has, the dispositionalist needs to be in a position to give a naturalistic

analysis of psychological terms, which is a task that isn't likely to be accomplished.

The problems faced by irrealism and reductionism led to the consideration of a non-

reductive account. The general strategy goes something like this: Kripke's skeptic can be given a

direct answer as to the question of what fact establishes that a speaker meant such-and-such by a

certain term, but these facts are not reducible to natural facts. Normative properties, according to

this account, should be taken as fundamental and on a par with natural properties. A lot of work

is left to be done with respect to fleshing out this account, to be sure. All that has been done here

is to address some of the major concerns that might argue against adopting this strategy. The

problems faced by the alternatives seem to be greater than those facing non-reductionism, and as

such, it should be seen as a viable alternative.









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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Jonathan Robert Hendrix, Jr. was born in Lexington, SC. He graduated from Heathwood

Hall Episcopal School in 1997. He attended the University of South Carolina from 1997 until

2001, majoring in history and philosophy. In 2003, he returned to academia as a graduate student

in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Florida, completing his master's thesis in

2007.