more from Hilary Putnam

Single Idea 14206

[catalogued under 19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / b. Indeterminate translation]

Full Idea

There are always infinitely many different interpretations of the predicates of a language which assign 'correct' truth-values to the sentences in all possible worlds, no matter how those 'correct' truth-values are singled out.

Gist of Idea

There are infinitely many interpretations of a sentence which can all seem to be 'correct'


Hilary Putnam (Reason, Truth and History [1981], Ch.2)

Book Reference

Putnam,Hilary: 'Reason, Truth and History' [CUP 1998], p.35

A Reaction

Putnam says that he is using this argument from model theory to endorse the scepticism about 'gavagai' that Quine expressed in 1960. It is based on the ideas of Skolem, who was a renegade philosopher of mathematics. See Tim Button.

Related Ideas

Idea 14205 The sentence 'A cat is on a mat' remains always true when 'cat' means cherry and 'mat' means tree [Putnam]

Idea 14207 If cats equal cherries, model theory allows reinterpretation of the whole language preserving truth [Putnam]