more from Hilary Putnam

Single Idea 7612

[catalogued under 18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content]

Full Idea

My concept of an elm tree is exactly the same as my concept of a beech tree (I blush to confess), which shows that the determination of reference is social and not individual - both you and I defer to experts who can tell elms from beeches.

Gist of Idea

Reference is social not individual, because we defer to experts when referring to elm trees


Hilary Putnam (Reason, Truth and History [1981], Ch.1)

Book Reference

Putnam,Hilary: 'Reason, Truth and History' [CUP 1998], p.18

A Reaction

If I said 'that tree looks nice' I wouldn't be deferring to experts. Nor if I said 'that tree, which I take to be an elm, looks nice'. If I am an expert I don't defer to experts.