Another Look at the Rule‐Following Paradox

Philosophical Forum 45 (1):69-88 (2014)
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Saul Kripke has famously argued that the central question of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, at least in relation to Wittgenstein's discussion of meaning, is the question: what facts determine that a speaker is following a particular rule? For example, assuming that language-use is a rule-governed activity, what facts determine that the rule a speaker is complying with in her current usage of a word is equivalent to the rule she complied with in her previous usage of the word? According to Kripke, Wittgenstein articulates this problem most perspicuously in the form of a paradox, which may be regarded as a new form of philosophical scepticism. This paper takes another look at Kripke's development of the Wittgensteinian paradox, advancing the thesis that the paradox admits of a very natural straight solution, one that has not been pursued in the scholarly literature, and one that Kripke himself entertains and then quickly disqualifies. Specifically, it is argued that Kripke's hypothetical sceptic errs in his response to the objection that he operates with a faulty model of the instruction one is given regarding a particular term or expression. Once the correct model of instruction is taken into account, the argument loses its plausibility



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Greg Janzen
University of Calgary

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