more from Hilary Putnam

Single Idea 6275

[catalogued under 19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / c. Principle of charity]

Full Idea

The maxim that 'most of a speaker's beliefs are true' as an a priori principle governing radical translation seems to me to go too far; first, I don't know how to count beliefs; second, most people's beliefs on some topics (philosophy) are probably false.

Gist of Idea

You can't say 'most speaker's beliefs are true'; in some areas this is not so, and you can't count beliefs


Hilary Putnam (Meaning and the Moral Sciences [1978], Pt Three)

Book Reference

Putnam,Hilary: 'Meaning and the Moral Sciences' [RKP 1981], p.101

A Reaction

Putnam prefers a pragmatic view, where charity is applicable if behaviour is involved. Philosophy is too purely theoretical. The extent to which Charity should apply in philosophy seminars is a nice question, which all students should test in practice.