Rule-Following and Meaning

Rule-Following and Meaning

Alexander Miller
Crispin Wright
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 313
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt80ngt
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    Rule-Following and Meaning
    Book Description:

    The rule-following debate, in its concern with the metaphysics and epistemology of linguistic meaning and mental content, goes to the heart of the most fundamental questions of contemporary philosophy of mind and language. This volume gathers together the most important contributions to the topic, including papers by Simon Blackburn, Paul Boghossian, Graeme Forbes, Warren Goldfarb, Paul Horwich, John McDowell, Colin McGinn, Ruth Millikan, Philip Pettit, George Wilson, and José Zalabardo. This debate has centred on Saul Kripke's reading of the rule-following sections in Wittgenstein and his consequent posing of a "sceptical paradox" that threatens our every day notions of linguistic meaning and mental content. These essays are attempts to respond to this challenge and represent some of the most important work in contemporary theory of meaning. They examine the notion of meaning; whether it is possible to find a suitable meaning-constituting fact from our previous behaviour or mental histories; objections to, and defenses of, dispositional accounts of meaning; the plausibility of non-factualism about meaning; our attempts to develop non-reductionist accounts of meaning; and the sources of the normativity which attaches to meaning, such as the linguistic practice of the community or the dispositions of the individual. With an introductory essay and a comprehensive guide to further reading the book is an excellent resource for courses in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, Wittgenstein, and metaphysics, as well as for all philosophers, linguists, and cognitive scientists with interests in these areas. Contributors include Simon Blackburn (University of Cambridge), Paul Boghossian (New York University), Graeme Forbes (Tulane University), Warren Goldfarb (Harvard University), Paul Horwich (City University of New York), John McDowell (University of Pittsburgh), Colin McGinn (Rutgers University), Alexander Miller, Ruth Garrett Millikan (University of Connecticut), Philip Pettit (Princeton University), George. M. Wilson (University of California, Davis), Crispin Wright, and José L. Zalabardo (University College London).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8346-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Alexander Miller and Crispin Wright
  4. THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)
    Alexander Miller

    One of the most widely discussed books in recent Anglo-American philosophy is Saul Kripke’sWittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.¹ Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s skeptic, drawing mainly on materials from Wittgenstein’sPhilosophical InvestigationsandRemarks on the Foundations of Mathematics,argues for a “skeptical paradox” about meaning: there is no fact of the matter in virtue of which an ascription of meaning, such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’”, is true or false; and so, since nothing turns on the nature of Jones or of the ‘+’ sign in particular, there is no fact of the matter as to whether any speaker...

  6. CHAPTER TWO SKEPTICISM AND SEMANTIC KNOWLEDGE
    (pp. 16-27)
    Graeme Forbes

    This paper is about the ‘skeptical paradox’ which Saul Kripke extracts from the one hundred or so sections ofWittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigationspreceding §243, and focuses on the dispositionalist response to the skeptic, which seems to me to be a better response than Kripke is willing to allow.¹

    The paradox is: ‘. . . no course of action could be determined by a rule, because every course of action can be made to accord with the rule’ (investigations§210). When someone masters a concept, we think of him as grasping a content or meaning which will guide his future application of the...

  7. CHAPTER THREE THE INDIVIDUAL STRIKES BACK
    (pp. 28-44)
    Simon Blackburn

    In this paper I address some of the points Saul Kripke makes in the treatment of the ‘rule-following considerations’ in the later Wittgenstein.¹ There are two different quarries to track down. There is the question of whether Kripke’s exegesis of Wittgenstein is correct - whether KW is LW. And there is the distinct question of the real significance of the considerations, as they are put forward by KW. Kripke himself is carefully agnostic about this second issue.² KW is not Kripke inpropria persona. And Kripke is also careful to distinguish the exegetical issue from the question of significance. The two...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR WITTGENSTEIN ON FOLLOWING A RULE
    (pp. 45-80)
    John McDowell

    We find it natural to think of meaning and understanding in, as it were,contractual terms.³ Our idea is that to learn the meaning of a word is to acquire an understanding that obliges us subsequently - if we have occasion to deploy the concept in question - to judge and speak in certain determinate ways, on pain of failure to obey the dictates of the meaning we have grasped; that we are “committed to certain patterns of linguistic usage by the meanings we attach to expressions”.⁴ According to Crispin Wright, the burden of Wittgenstein’s reflections on following a rule, in...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE WITTGENSTEIN, KRIPKE AND NON-REDUCTIONISM ABOUT MEANING
    (pp. 81-91)
    Colin McGinn

    What is very striking about Kripke’s skeptic is an assumption he makes which, once it is brought to light, ought to make us suspicious of his whole way of proceeding; this assumption both is essential to the argument and is itself unargued for. I mean the assumption that if there are semantic facts they will have to bereducibleto facts specified non-semantically: for the skeptic is in effect demanding an answer to the question ‘what does meaning/reference consist in?’ which does not just help itself to the notions of meaning and reference. Thus the candidate answers Kripke considers all attempt to...

  10. CHAPTER SIX KRIPKE ON WITTGENSTEIN ON RULES
    (pp. 92-107)
    Warren Goldfarb

    There is no doubt that Ludwig Wittgenstein thought the topic of rule following to be important; nearly forty sections of thePhilosophical Investigationsare devoted to it, as are large swatches of the manuscripts published asRemarks on the Foundations of Mathematics.¹ It relevance to Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics was emphasized early on by Michael Dummett;² but only recently has it received significant attention in the less specialized context of theInvestigations, that is, with respect to questions of meaning and intentionality. This recent attention has, to a large extent, been engendered by Saul Kripke’s exposition of Wittgenstein, first presented publicly at...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN CRITICAL NOTICE OF COLIN McGINN’S WITTGENSTEIN ON MEANING
    (pp. 108-128)
    Crispin Wright

    Colin McGinn’s book belongs to the reaction to, and against Saul Kripke’sWittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.¹ The book is in four chapters. The first and third are respectively devoted to exegesis of Wittgenstein’s ideas on rule-following and understanding, and to criticism of them. The second attacks Kripke’s famous tandem of Skeptical Argument and Skeptical Solution as an interpretation of Wittgenstein; and the fourth criticizes Kripke’s dialectic on its own terms.

    McGinn’s book is not straightforward to appraise. Certainly, there is much in it to admire, and much with which to agree. One must admire, in particular, - though...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT MEANING AND INTENTION AS JUDGEMENT DEPENDENT
    (pp. 129-140)
    Crispin Wright

    I want to canvass a third possibility: an account of the central insight of Wittgenstein’s discussion of rule-following which is neither Kripkean nor ‘official’. It may be that the ‘official’ view is exegetically correct, and that I do here part company with the intentions of the actual, historical Wittgenstein. But it seems to me that it is an important methodological precept that we do not despair of giving answers to constitutive questions too soon; if the accomplishments of analysis in philosophy often seem meagre, that may be because it is difficult, not impossible.

    The rule-following considerations attack the idea that...

  13. CHAPTER NINE THE RULE-FOLLOWING CONSIDERATIONS
    (pp. 141-187)
    Paul A. Boghossian

    Recent years have witnessed a great resurgence of interest in the writings of the later Wittgenstein, especially with those passages - roughly,Philosophical Investigations§§138-242 andRemarks on the Foundations of Mathematics,section VI - that are concerned with the topic of rules. Much of the credit for all this excitement, unparalleled since the heyday of Wittgenstein scholarship in the early 1960s, must go to Saul Kripke’sWittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.² It is easy to explain why.

    To begin with, the dialectic Kripke uncovered from Wittgenstein’s discussion is enormously exciting on its own terms. On Kripke’s reading, the passages...

  14. CHAPTER TEN THE REALITY OF RULE-FOLLOWING
    (pp. 188-208)
    Philip Pettit

    Drawing on Wittgensteinian materials, Saul Kripke has raised a problem for anyone who thinks that we follow rules, say rules of meaning, in the ordinary sense of that phrase: the sense in which it suggests that rules are entities we can identify at a time and form the intention of trying to honour thereafter.¹ He has presented a skeptical challenge to the idea of rule-following, elaborating - if not wholly endorsing -arguments which purport to show that the idea is rooted in illusion.

    I believe that this challenge is of the greatest importance in the philosophy of mind, though many...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN TRUTH RULES, HOVERFLIES, AND THE KRIPKE-WITTGENSTEIN PARADOX
    (pp. 209-233)
    Ruth Garrett Millikan

    The challenge is a welcome one. Although I will argue that the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox is not a problem for naturalists only, I will propose naturalist solution to it. (Should the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox prove to be soluble from a naturalist standpoint but intractable from other standpoints, that would, I suppose, constitute an argument for naturalism.) Then I will show that the paradox and its solution have an important consequence for the theories of meaning and truth. The Kripke-Wittgenstein arguments which pose the paradox also put in question Dummett’s and Putnam’s view of language understanding. From this view it follows that truth...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE KRIPKE ON WITTGENSTEIN ON NORMATIVITY
    (pp. 234-259)
    George M. Wilson

    In Saul Kripke’sWittgenstein on Rules and Private Language,¹ there are two main characters: a semantical skeptic and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Kripke himself, we can suppose, is the narrator. In the course of his narrative, the narrator often speaks for one or the other of the characters, and, when the characters are in agreement, he sometimes speaks for both. However, unlike Dr. Watson and Holmes, Kripke’s Wittgenstein does not assent to all the skeptic’s chief conclusions. Rather, Kripke’s characters are related more in the manner of the governess and Mrs. Gross inThe Turn of the Screw. The skeptic sees ‘the...

  17. CHAPTER THIRTEEN MEANING, USE AND TRUTH
    (pp. 260-273)
    Paul Horwich

    The purpose of this paper is to defend Wittgenstein’s idea - his so-called “usetheory” of meaning - against what is perhaps the most influential of the many arguments that have been levelled against it. I’m thinking of Kripke’s critique of “dispositionalism”, which is a central component of his celebrated essay,Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.¹ Kripke argues that meaning a certain thing by a word is not a matter of being disposed to use it in a certain way. And his argument has been well-received. Most commentators, whatever they say about Kripke’soverallline of thought (leading up to his...

  18. CHAPTER FOURTEEN KRIPKE’S NORMATIVITY ARGUMENT
    (pp. 274-294)
    José L. Zalabardo

    InWittgenstein on Rules and Private Language,² Kripke presented an argument to the effect that there can be no facts as to what someone means by a linguistic expression. In this argument, a central role is played by the contention that meaning is a normative notion. Some of the most popular accounts of what meaning facts consist in are rejected on the grounds that they fail to accommodate the normative character of meaning. This aspect of Kripke’s dialectic plays a crucial role in his rejection of dispositional accounts of meaning, and it is rightly perceived as undermining, if successful, currently...

  19. GUIDE TO FURTHER READING
    (pp. 295-299)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 300-302)