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

  • Ian Hacking (a1)


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”?’.



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1 Kripke, Saul A., Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1982). 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), henceforth FFF.

3 Kripke, 58.

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

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

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

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

8 Ibid. 180.

9 FFF, 64.

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

11 The Fortunes of Inquiry, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 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).

12 Kripke, 128.

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

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), 175191. 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). 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).

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), and by later work by contributors to that volume.

16 Kripke, 20n.

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

18 Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, 3rd and augmented edition, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978), VI–35, p. 336f. Cf. VI–28, p. 329. (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.

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

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

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

23 Allen, Barry, ‘Gruesome Arithmetic: Kripke's Sceptic Replies’, Dialogue 28 (1989), 257264, on p. 262. 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. 109, changing ‘plus’ to ‘green’.

25 RFM 13, p. 36 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.

28 Gombay, André, Lying Now and then, 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), 113124.

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

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.

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

  • Ian Hacking (a1)


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