The Meaning of Meaning Philosophy Paper

In ‘The Meaning of “Meaning”’, Putnam sets out an argument against the conjunction of two principles: (1) Knowing the meaning of a natural kind term is just a matter of being in a certain psychological state (in the non-factive, “narrow sense”); and (2) The meaning of a term (in the sense of “intension”) [and knowing its meaning] determines its extension (i.e. sameness of meaning entails sameness of extension). Explain Putnam’s argument in your own words. Explain Putnam’s two incompatible ways of rejecting either (1) or (2).

Write a paper of at least 4 pages and no more than 5 pages, double-spaced, normal fonts and margins. Papers will not be accepted if they are longer than 5 pages or shorter than 4 pages. There is to be no prose in footnotes, other than citations. The point of the assignment is again to work on your planning of substantive material and on clear, concise expression.

Absolute rule: All sentences should be no longer than 16 words. If any sentence is longer than 16 words, points will be deducted from your grade. This restriction is a tool for forcing you to write in a clear concise way.

(i) Use simple words, keeping vocabulary as concrete as possible. (ii) Use examples. (iii) Use active (not passive) voice as much as possible. Use transitive not intransitive verbs as much as possible (transitive verbs have a direct object, like “hit” in “May hit the ball”, and unlike “is” in “May is a hitter”). (iv) If you use a technical expression, or an expression your non-philosopher roommate would not understand, explain it clearly and concisely. (If you can’t explain it, you shouldn’t use it.) (v) Where there is an argument, break it down into steps. (vi) Keep the writing clear, simple, and direct. (vii) Read your paper out loud for yourself before handing it in. Try it out on a friend, to see whether he or she can understand it. If it is not clear to him/her, it probably isn’t clear enough to hand in.