Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Anon (Dan), Antisthenes (Ath) and Paul Horwich

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3 ideas

19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 4. Meaning as Truth-Conditions
We could know the truth-conditions of a foreign sentence without knowing its meaning [Horwich]
     Full Idea: Someone who does not understand German and is told 'Schnee ist weiss' is true if frozen H2O is white, does not understand the German sentence, even though he knows the truth-conditions.
     From: Paul Horwich (Truth (2nd edn) [1990], Ch.5.22 n1)
     A reaction: This sounds like a powerful objection to Davidson's well-known claim that meaning is truth-conditions. Horwich likes the idea that meaning is use, but I think a similar objection arises - you can use a sentence well without knowing its meaning.
19. Language / D. Propositions / 1. Propositions
There are Fregean de dicto propositions, and Russellian de re propositions, or a mixture [Horwich]
     Full Idea: There are pure, Fregean, abstract, de dicto propositions, in which a compositional structure is filled only with senses; there are pure, Russellian, concrete, de re propositions, which are filled with referents; and there are mixed propositions.
     From: Paul Horwich (Truth (2nd edn) [1990], Ch.6.31)
     A reaction: Once Frege has distinguished sense from reference, this distinction of propositions is likely to follow. The current debate over the internalist and externalist accounts of concepts seems to continue the debate. A mixed strategy sounds good.
19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / b. Indeterminate translation
Right translation is a mapping of languages which preserves basic patterns of usage [Horwich]
     Full Idea: The right translation between words of two languages is the mapping that preserves basic patterns of usage - where usage is characterised non-semantically, in terms of circumstances of application, assertibility conditions and inferential role.
     From: Paul Horwich (Truth (2nd edn) [1990], Ch.6.32)
     A reaction: It still strikes me that if you ask why a piece of language is used in a certain way, you find yourself facing something deeper about meaning than mere usage. Horwich cites Wittgenstein and Quine in his support. Could a machine pass his test?