Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kripke's Puzzle

To proceed, let us first list in detail what compromises Kripke’s Puzzle. Consider Pierre, a native French speaker that does not speak a word of English or any other language, one-day hears or considers the city of London. Upon considering this famous city, he utters the statement, in French, “Londres est jolie.” The translation of this utterance is, to some extent, London is beautiful. Following the Pierre’s utterance, we are able to conclude via the Disquotational Principle (which holds that: If a normal English speaker, on reflection, sincerely assents to ‘p’, then he believes that p) that Pierre believes that London is beautiful. So,
(1) Pierre believes that London is pretty.
Latter in Pierre’s life, he decides to relocate to London, and during some unspecified amount of time he learns English by way of “direct method”. However, upon moving to London, he is unfortunately placed in a part of London that is less than admirable. Pierre is then inclined to make the statement that:
(2) London is not pretty.
And as Kripke points out: he is under no inclination to assent to:
(3) London is pretty.
Suppose further, that Pierre is under no immediate inclination to abandon or revise his former beliefs that he held in France about the city that he knew as ‘Londres.’ From this we arrive at the folcum of Kripke’s puzzle. Kripke states that,
If we consider Pierre’s past back ground as a French speaker, his entire linguist behavior, on the same basis as we would draw such a conclusion about many of his countrymen, supports the conclusion ([1] above) that he believes that London is pretty… but then on the basis of his sincere assent to ([2]), we should conclude:
([4]) Pierre believes that London is not pretty.
How can we describe this situation? It seems undeniable that Pierre once believed that London is pretty – at least before he learnt English. For at that time, he differed not at all from countless numbers of his countrymen, and we would have exactly the same grounds to say of him… [However] it [now] seems that we must respect both Pierre’s French utterances and their English counterparts. So, we want to say that Pierre has contradictory beliefs (emphasis mine).
So, to reiterate the basic aspects of the puzzle deals with the idea that we have two contradictory utterances –in different languages- of X, and that via the Disquotation Principle, it follows that if those utterances were sincerely assented to, then the person P must believe X. If the prior is the case then P must possess contradictory beliefs.

I don't know what to make of this. Upon first glance, it compels me to hold Pierre to the fact that he seems to have contradictory beliefs. And at times, it makes me hold him to the fact that Pierre is just irrational. I think that there is a response to Kripke. Consider my solution:
Let us again suppose that at T1 Pierre holds x, and at T2 he holds ~x; but at T2 Pierre holds both x and ~x. That is to say that the properties that composed x at T1 hold relative to T1, or that x is “rigidly” fixed to T1. This means that there is some property or set of properties that composed x and that those properties are fixed to the states of affairs that were actualized at T1. So, even if he holds ~x at T2, he can still hold x relative to the states of affairs at T1 –and ~x is able to also hold for the states of affairs at T2.
This seems to work for Pierre, and we would hold that he just thinks that from one perspective London is beautiful and from another it is not.

I "might" wright more about this someday...

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