The Dilemma Imposed on the Realist by Putnam's and Kripkensteinian Argument

Henrik Sova


In this article, I have two aims. Firstly, I argue that Hilary Putnam's model theoretic indeterminacy argument against external realism and Saul Kripke's so-called Kripkensteinian argument against semantic realism have the same dialectical structure and the same conclusion---both force the opponent to face the same dilemma. Namely: either adopt meaning minimalism or postulate unobservable semantic facts (robust realism). Secondly, I analyze more closely the first horn of the dilemma---meaning minimalism. This is the position according to which there are no truth conditions for meaning-ascriptions. It has been suggested that this position is incoherent. However, I argue that there is a coherent option available for the meaning minimalist. As Crispin Wright has proposed, a coherent meaning minimalist has to adopt a structured truth-predicate with at least two levels: one is a minimal or a deflationary truth-predicate for a semantic discourse and the other, more substantial or objective truth-predicate for discourses like natural sciences. Subsequently, this leads to a position close to Huw Price's global expressivism. Thus, the ultimate dilemma that Putnam's and the Kripkensteinian argument establish is the following choice: either meaning minimalism with a structured two-level truth-predicate or robust realism regarding meaning.


Putnam's argument, Kripkensteinian argument, meaning minimalism, global expressivism, external realism

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Copyright (c) 2017 Henrik Sova

Online ISSN: 1736-5899 | Print ISSN: 2228-110X