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On Kripke's and Goodman's Uses of ‘Grue’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2009

Ian Hacking
University of Toronto


Kripke's lectures, published as Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, posed a sceptical problem about following a rule, which he cautiously attributed to Wittgenstein. He briefly noticed an analogy between his new kind of scepticism and Goodman's riddle of induction. ‘Grue’, he said, could be used to formulate a question not about induction but about meaning:

the problem would not be Goodman's about induction—‘Why not predict that grass, which has been grue in the past, will be grue in the future?’—but Wittgenstein's about meaning: ‘Who is to say that in the past I did not mean grue by “green”, so that now I should call the sky, not the grass, “green”?’.

Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1993

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1 Kripke, Saul A., Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1982)Google Scholar. Henceforth Kripke.

2 Goodman, Nelson, Fact, Fiction, and Forecast (1954), chapters 3 and 4. Page references are to the 4th edition, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983)Google Scholar, henceforth FFF.

3 Kripke, 58.Google Scholar

4 First given wide currency in Barker, S. F. and Achinstein, P., ‘On the New Riddle of Induction’, Philosophical Review 69 (1960), 511522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

5 Hacking, Ian, ‘Entrenchment’, in Grue! The New Riddle of Induction, Stalker, Douglas (ed.) (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1993).Google Scholar

6 Ways of Worldmaking (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1978), 1.Google Scholar

7 Shoemaker, , ‘On Projecting the Unprojectible’, Philosophical Review 84 (1975), 178219, on p. 179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

8 Ibid. 180.

9 FFF, 64.Google Scholar

10 Whitehead, A. N. and Russell, B., Principia Mathematica, 2nd edn. (Cambridge University Press, 1925), I, p. 59.Google Scholar

11 The Fortunes of Inquiry, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986)Google Scholar, passes from the calibration of instruments to the calibration of ways of assessing theories, an idea that is further generalized in The Scenes of Inquiry (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).Google Scholar

12 Kripke, 128.Google Scholar

13 ‘Critical Notice’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 15 (1985), 103109.Google Scholar

14 On the specific question of the ‘social’ nature of language, see Burge, Tyler, ‘Wherein is Language Social?’ in Reflections on Chomsky, George, A., (ed.) (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 175191Google Scholar. That vein of Burge's work goes back to ‘Individualism and the Mental’, in Midwest Studies in Philosophy VI, in French, P. et al. , (eds) (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1979)Google Scholar. For one recent discussion of that position, with ample references, see ch. 3 of Bilgrami, Akeel, Belief and Meaning: The Unity and Locality of Mental Content, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992).Google Scholar

15 As represented by papers at the Oxford conference Wittgenstein: To Follow a Rule, Holtzman, S. H. and Leich, C. M., (eds) (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981)Google Scholar, and by later work by contributors to that volume.

16 Kripke, 20n.Google Scholar

17 The example is used to make just this point in Austin, J. L., Sense and Sensibilia, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), on p. 113.Google Scholar

18 Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, 3rd and augmented edition, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978), VI–35, p. 336f. Cf. VI–28, p. 329Google Scholar. (The translator's ‘should’, in the first paragraph quoted, of course expresses the subjunctive, not ‘ought to’). Part VI (1943–44) of the 3rd edition is not in earlier editions, and so was published only after Kripke first gave his lectures in 1976.

19 FFF, 79f.Google Scholar

20 ‘No Smoke Without Fire: The Meaning of Grue’, The Philosophical Quarterly 39 (1989) 166189, on p. 167Google Scholar

21 Shoemaker, , in ‘On Projecting the Unprojectible’, op. cit. note 8Google Scholar, and Hesse, Mary, ‘Ramifications of “Grue”’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 20 (1969), 1325CrossRefGoogle Scholar. I discuss both papers in ‘Entrenchment’, op. cit. note 5.

22 Grandy, Richard, ‘Reference, Meaning and Belief’, The Journal of Philosophy 70 (1973), 443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

23 Allen, Barry, ‘Gruesome Arithmetic: Kripke's Sceptic Replies’, Dialogue 28 (1989), 257264, on p. 262CrossRefGoogle Scholar. I am grateful to Professor Allen for comments on an earlier draft of this section, and regret that I am still at some distance from his position.

24 Anscombe, , ‘Critical Notice’ p. 109Google Scholar, changing ‘plus’ to ‘green’.

25 RFM 13, p. 36Google Scholar of the third edition, p. 3e of the first edition. Wittgen stein's emphasis. In this passage, 1937–38, Wittgenstein asked, how do I know that this colour is ‘red’. In 1943–4, quoted above, he asked how do I know that the colour that I am now seeing is called ‘green’. I doubt that Wittgenstein intended the difference between ‘is “red”,’ and ‘is called “green”,’ to mark a relevant philosophical difference between the two passages.

26 I am very grateful to David Bakhurst of Queen's University for devastating criticism of an earlier version of the thoughts expressed in this section. He would still disagree with my characterization of scepticisms, but he has prevented me from making the most glaring errors.

27 Bouwsma, O. K., ‘Descartes' Evil Genius’, The Philosophical Review 58 (1949), 141151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

28 Gombay, André, Lying Now and thenGoogle Scholar, forthcoming.

29 See my ‘Rules, Scepticism, Proof, Wittgenstein’ in Exercises in Analysis: Essays by Students of Casimir Lewy, Hacking, I., (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 1985), 113124Google Scholar.

30 See my ‘How, Why, When and Where did Language go Public?’, Common Knowledge 1, no. 2, (Fall, 1992), 7491, on p. 89.Google Scholar

31 I am deeply in debt to Rupert Read of Rutgers University for his persistently working through previous versions of this essay. He suggested improvements for virtually every page.

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