What is the Sceptical Solution?


  • Alexander Miller University of Otago




In chapter 3 of Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Kripke’s Wittgenstein offers a “sceptical solution" to the sceptical paradox about meaning developed in chapter 2 (according to which there are no facts in virtue of which ascriptions of meaning such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’” can be true). Although many commentators have taken the sceptical solution to be broadly analogous to non-factualist theories in other domains, such as non-cognitivism or expressivism in metaethics, the nature of the sceptical solution has not been well-understood. The main aim of this paper is to advance our understanding of the nature of the non-factualism about meaning proposed in the sceptical solution. It attempts to outline some desiderata that should be respected by interpretations of the sceptical solution and considers two objections raised against it in Barry Stroud’s paper “Wittgenstein on Meaning, Understanding and Community". It attempts to correct misconstruals of the sceptical solution that have been promulgated by Davidson and some of his followers and suggests that the sceptical solution developed by Kripke’s Wittgenstein is best viewed as a form of quasi-realism about meaning. It ends by outlining what it takes to be the most pressing challenges facing the sceptical solution.



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