The Real Nature of Kripke's Paradox

Wiener Linguistische Gazette 64:83-98 (2000)
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Reading Kripke's "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language", at first one can easily get confused about his claim that the problem discovered was a sort of ontological skepticism. Contrary to the opinion of a great number of contemporary philosophers who hold that rule-following brings up merely epistemological problems I will argue that the scepticism presented by Kripke really is ontological because it is concerned with the exclusion of certain facts. The first section in this paper is dedicated to a presentation of Kripke's paradox with a clarification of the position of "plus/quus-talk" in the argument. Section two is engaged in one of his classical direct solutions: the dispositional theory which will serve as a preparation for the last section. Section three is concerned with Kripke's solution to the skeptical problem, ending with the question of whether he is giving a real solution. In section four, I will try to give an answer to those questions, distinguishing between two different versions of the problem given by the paradox; a wrong one and a correct one. Readers who are really fed up with the sceptical problem and its sceptical solution can skip section one, two and three, concentrating instead on my own argument for the real nature of the problem. In section five, I will pick up on some ideas from Norwich, who tries to give a "straight solution" to the paradox reanimating some weaker version of a dispositional theory of meaning. I will argue that Horwich's solution is misleading because he aims at the wrong version of the paradox.

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Christoph C. Pfisterer
University of Z├╝rich


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