more from Hilary Putnam

Single Idea 3208

[catalogued under 18. Thought / C. Content / 5. Twin Earth]

Full Idea

Putnam argued that "water" refers to H2O by virtue of causal chains extending from present use back to early dubbing uses of it that were in fact dubbings of the substance H2O (although, of course, the original users of the word didn't know this).

Gist of Idea

Does 'water' mean a particular substance that was 'dubbed'?


report of Hilary Putnam (The Meaning of 'Meaning' [1975]) by Georges Rey - Contemporary Philosophy of Mind 9.2.1

Book Reference

Rey,Georges: 'Contemporary Philosophy of Mind' [Blackwell 1997], p.242

A Reaction

This is the basic idea of the Causal Theory of Reference. Nice conclusion: most of us don't know what we are talking about. Maybe the experts on H2O are also wrong...