Semantic Non-factualism in Kripke’s Wittgenstein


  • Daniel Boyd CUNY Graduate Center



Kripke’s Wittgenstein is standardly understood as a non-factualist about meaning ascription. Non-factualism about meaning ascription is the idea that sentences like “Joe means addition by ‘plus’” are not used to state facts about the world. Byrne and Kusch have argued that Kripke’s Wittgenstein is not a non-factualist about meaning ascription. They are aware that their interpretation is non-standard, but cite arguments from Boghossian and Wright to support their view. Boghossian argues that non-factualism about meaning ascription is incompatible with a deflationary theory of truth. Wright argues that non-factualism about meaning ascription is incoherent. To support the standard interpretation, I’ll respond to each argument in turn. To the degree that my responses are successful, Byrne and Kusch have an unmotivated interpretation of Kripke’s Wittgenstein. Wilson provides a factualist interpretation that is not based on Boghossian and Wright’s arguments. Miller argues for a non-factualist interpretation against Wilson, but I’ll show that Miller’s interpretation faces a dilemma. Miller’s argument cannot be maintained if a coherent interpretation of the skeptical solution is to be provided. I’ll show how this dilemma can be avoided and provide an independent argument against Wilson so that a non-factualist interpretation of the skeptical solution can be maintained.

Author Biography

Daniel Boyd, CUNY Graduate Center

Philosophy Department, doctoral candidate


Boghossian, Paul, 1989. “The Rule-Following Considerations.” Mind 98: 507–49.

Blackburn, Simon, 2007. “Pragmatism: All or Some?”, accessed 21 August 2017.

Burgess, Alexis, 2010. “How to Reconcile Deflationism with Nonfactualism.” Noûs 44: 433–50.

Byrne, Alex, 1996. “On Misinterpreting Kripke’s Wittgenstein.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61: 339–43.

Glüer, Kathrin and Åsa Wikforss, 2009. “The Normativity of Meaning and Content.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,, accessed 21 August 2017.

Kripke, Saul, 1982. Wittgenstein On Rules And Private Language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Kusch, Martin, 2006. A Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules. Stocksfield: Acumen.

Miller, Alex, 2010. “Kripke’s Wittgenstein, Factualism and Meaning.” In The Later Wittgenstein On Language, edited by Daniel Whiting, pp. 213–30. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Price, Huw, 2003. “Truth as Convenient Friction.” The Journal of Philosophy 100: 167–90.

Wilson, George, 2002. “Kripke on Wittgenstein and Normativity.” In Rule Following and Meaning, edited by Alexander Miller and Crispin Wright, pp. 234–59. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.

Wright, Crispin, 1984. “Kripke’s Account of the Argument Against Private Language.” The Journal of Philosophy 81: 759–78.