Posts tagged ‘reference’

April 18, 2018

Meaning and reference

by Neil Rickert

I take the view that meaning is subjective.

Many people argue that meaning is objective.  Putnam, in effect, was arguing that in his “The meaning of meaning.”  But it has seemed to me that Putnam’s argument was really about reference rather than about meaning.

In this post I shall discuss both meaning an reference.  And I shall attempt to relate them to my posts about carving up the world.

Intension and extension

It is common to discuss meaning related topics in terms of extension and intension.  The extension of a word is the set of things that it can refer.  So the extension of “cat” would be the set of all cats.  The term “intension” is supposed to be something internal, related to the word.  The intension of “cat” might consist of all properties that characterize cats.

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July 17, 2013

Phractal filosofi

by Neil Rickert

I will probably be misusing the words “fractal” and “philosophy” in this post, and that’s why I used that funky spelling in the title.  I’ll use the normal spellings everywhere else.

If you are looking for an explanation of fractals, you have come to the wrong place.  Try the Wikipedia article.  If you are looking for a philosophical discussion of fractals, you have probably come to the wrong place.  Perhaps there is some of that in Hofstadter’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach“.  This post is about a fractal way of looking at philosophy.  And yes, I am making it up as I go along.

If you look at something closely enough, you will see what appears to be a kind of disorder in the details.  If you magnify that to see in more detail, then you will see more disorder.  That’s more or less the idea of fractals being everywhere.

School grammar

Let’s start by looking at language.

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November 23, 2012

RTH2 – Cats and cherries

by Neil Rickert

This is the second of my posts related to an online discussion of Putnam’s book “Reason, Truth and History”.  Hence the “RTH2” in the title of this post.  For the first such post, check here.

Starting at page 32 of his book, Putnam presents an argument that has come to be known as the “Cats and Cherries” argument, or sometimes as the model theoretic argument.  The model theory background from mathematical logic is the Löwenheim–Skolem theorem.  The theorem itself says that, under suitable assumptions, a theory might have infinitely many interpretations.  If we take natural language to be a theory (as the term “theory” is used in mathematical logic), then this raises the possibility that there might be different ways that natural language words could refer to real world entities.

Putnam considers the possibility of a radical reinterpretation of the English language, such that whenever we say “the cat is on the mat” we really mean “the cherry is on the tree.”

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July 30, 2012


by Neil Rickert

Some of the readers of this blog are of a scientific inclination, and are probably confused, or even troubled, by my mention of “intentional objects” in my last post.  I am not a real philosopher (except in the broad sense that everybody is a philosopher), so I have some understanding of why readers might be troubled by the terminology of intentionality.

In this post, I will attempt to clear up some of the possible confusion.  That’s not all that easy to do, but I shall try.

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