Kripkenstein: Rule and Indeterminacy

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Kripkenstein: Rule and Indeterminacy

ABSTRACT: Indeterminacy theories, such as Wittgenstein's and Kripke's indeterminacy principle on rules and language and Quine's indeterminacy of radical translation, raise some fundamental questions on our knowledge and understanding. In this paper we try to outline and interpret Wittgenstein's and Kripke's indeterminacy, and then compare it to some other related theories on indeterminacy of human thinking, such as raised by Hume, Quine, and Goodman.

Quine's indeterminacy differs from Wittgenstein's in several aspects. First, Wittgenstein and Kripke's indeterminacy applies to a single individual in isolation and this indeterminacy disappears when the single person is brought into a wider community. Thus, this indeterminacy is only logically possible or hypothetical. Second, in Quine's problem, two translation manuals are distinguishable; while Wittgenstein's hypotheses, such as 'plus' and 'quus' and many others, are indistinguishable for the subject's past and the subject would never aware of the distinctions. Third, in Wittgenstein's view, whether a member follows the rules or not can be determined by 'outward criterion'. Quine's indeterminacy denies the existence of such 'outward criterion' for his two translation manuals.

Goodman's hypothesis of 'grue' is quite different from the above two indeterminacy in terms of both objective of introducing the concept and the usage of it. Goodman's issue is to search for the rules in screening out 'bad' assumptions in induction. This induction issue is not indeterminacy of Wittgenstein's skeptic arguments or Quine's radical translation.

Wittgenstein and Kripke's conclusion that that rules are brute facts seems to be questionable. Form of life is one of Wittgenstein's key concepts in his theory on rules and is linked to rules in some crucial ways. A community cannot agree on arbitrary rules and rules other than some highly selected ones cannot bind a community together. What a community agree or disagree is not an arbitrary game.

Kripke presents Wittgenstein's theory on rules in his book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. The topic is difficult and the presentation seems to inherit some characteristics of the original work, which "is not presented in the form of a deductive argument with definitive theses as conclusions,..." (Kripke, 1982, p.3). Kripke tells the reader: "The point to be made here is that, at the same time the second part is important for an ultimate understanding of the first.'' (1982, p.84) "In this way the relation ship between the first and the second portions... is reciprocal." (1982, p.85). We find that a reciprocal reading helps me to understand and absorb the main points and arguments.

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