Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules

Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules: Defending Kripke’s Wittgenstein

Martin Kusch
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules
    Book Description:

    Saul Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language has attracted much criticism and few friends. Yet it is one of the books that most students of philosophy have to read at some point in their education. Enormously influential, it has given rise to debates that strike at the very heart of contemporary philosophy of mind and language. In this major new interpretation, Martin Kusch defends Kripke's account against the numerous objections that have been put forward over the past twenty years, arguing that none of them is decisive. He shows that many critiques are based on misunderstandings of Kripke's reasoning, many attacks can be blocked by refining and developing Kripke's position, and many alternative proposals turn out either to be unworkable or to be disguised variants of the view they are meant to replace. Kusch argues that the apparent simplicity of Kripke's text is deceptive and that a fresh reading gives Kripke's overall argument a new strength.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8614-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-xii)
    M. K
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  6. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-49)

    This study is an interpretation and defence of Saul Kripke’s essayWittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (WRPL).Kripke’s essay is, in turn, an interpretation and defence of one central theme in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s principal workPhilosophical Investigations (PI).Kripke insists that, in advocating Wittgensteins views, he is not speaking for himself: “Primarily I can be read, except in a few obvious asides, as almost like an attorney presenting a major philosophical argument as struck me” (WRPL:ix). Kripke is trying to make Wittgensteins ideas as strong and convincing as possible, without however committing himself to their truth. This book...

  7. TWO Normativitiy
    (pp. 50-93)

    A good deal of the debate over Kripke’sWittgenstein on Rules and Private Languagehas concerned the role of normativity considerations in the sceptical argument and in the sceptical solution. Alas, there is little consensus among commentators on either the correct interpretation, or the truth, of these considerations in either context. Interpreters give different answers to the questions of how normativity considerations are supposed to tell against dispositionalism, and what kind of normativity survives the shift to the sceptical solution. And many critics insist that the normativity considerations of Kripke’s Wittgenstein fail to convince under any of the proposed interpretations....

  8. THREE Dispositions and extensions
    (pp. 94-126)

    The argument ofWRPLagainst reductive semantic dispositionalism can be reconstructed as having two prongs.¹ (In this chapter, “dispositionalism” always means “reductive semantic dispositionalism”.) The first prong is the claim that dispositionalism fails theintensional requirement:it fails to show that having the disposition to use a sign“y”under conditionsCintuitively resembles meaningXby “y”. This criticism is tantamount to saying that dispositionalism is unable to do justice to semantic normativity. The second prong of the argument against dispositionalism is that it is unable to meet theextensional requirement:it does not succeed in identifying dispositional predicates...

  9. FOUR Other responses
    (pp. 127-147)

    Chapters 2 and 3 showed that reductive semantic dispositionalism is not a satisfactory answer to the sceptical challenge. Alas, to show that dispositionalism is not up to the task is not yet to establish that high-brow meaning determinism fails. After all, dispositionalism is not the only high-brow meaning-determinist response to the sceptic. In this chapter I therefore discuss four other meaning-determinist proposals:

    (i) the simplicity response,

    (ii) the algorithm response,

    (iii) the causalist response, and

    (iv) the Platonist response.

    WRPLattacks versions of (i), (ii) and (iv). Critics ofWRPLhave sought to rebut these attacks either by finding fault...

  10. FIVE Factualism and non-factualism
    (pp. 148-176)

    In this and the following two chapters I turn to the main controversies regarding the sceptical solution. In this chapter I discuss the issue of whether the sceptical solution features a credible successor to classical realism; in Chapter 61 show that the private language argumentas rendered by WRPLis defensible; and in Chapter 7 I ask how the sceptical solution relates to semantic primitivism.

    The first topic is naturally subdivided into three questions. First, does the sceptical solution propose a factualist or a non-factualist reading of meaning attributions? Secondly, assuming - as the majority view among critics has it...

  11. SIX Intersubjectivity and assertability conditions
    (pp. 177-206)

    In this chapter I shall discuss various issues relating to the private language argument asWRPLpresents it. I shall begin by distinguishing between two ways the “official road” and the “improved road” - of arguing for intersubjectivity and against privacy. The official road seems to be favoured by Kripke himself. It defends a communal analysis of meaning and rule-following in three steps. The first step establishes that meaning determinism is unsatisfactory. The second step focuses on replacing classical realism with assertability (that is, on replacing explanatory truth-conditions with assertability conditions). And the third step shows that, properly understood, assertability...

  12. SEVEN Semantic primitivism
    (pp. 207-236)

    Four of the most influential commentators onWRPL– Boghossian, McDowell, Pettit and Wright – have argued that the sceptical challenge can best be met by primitivism about meaning and content. All four philosophers present their proposals asnon-sceptical, straightresponses to the sceptic, and two of them even ally their suggestions explicitly with the sixth of the seven responses discussed and dismissed in Chapter 2 ofWRPL.At first sight, it might seem surprising for us to investigate these views only now, two chapters after we have left behind other straight responses to the sceptic. The reason for this transposition stems...

  13. EIGHT Kripke’s interpretation of Wittgenstein
    (pp. 237-264)

    In previous chapters I have sought to interpret and defend the meaning-sceptical position that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein. In doing so, I have, for the most part, left aside the question of whether Kripke’s reading of Wittgenstein is correct. In this chapter, I shall finally address this issue. I shall argue that Kripke’s interpretation of the sections on rule-following inPIand theRemarks on the Foundations of Mathematicsis, by and large, on target. I shall make my case by taking on the most important of the opposite views: Baker and Hacker’s 1984 book,Scepticism, Rules and Language (SRL)....

  14. Notes
    (pp. 265-288)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-298)
  16. Index
    (pp. 299-302)