The Julio césar problem

Dialectica 59 (2):223–236 (2005)
Abstract
One version of the Julius Caesar problem arises when we demand assurance that expressions drawn from different theories or stretches of discourse refer to different things. The counter‐Caesar problem arises when assurance is demanded that expressions drawn from different theories . refer to the same thing. The Julio César problem generalises from the counter‐Caesar problem. It arises when we seek reassurance that expressions drawn from different languages refer to the same kind of things . If the Julio César problem is not resolved then the Fregean account of numbers as objects is cast into doubt, the notion of number left relative to a language. Wright introduced this problem by asking whether there can be such a thing as ‘International Platonism’. After rejecting Hale's attempt to resolve it I argue that the threat posed by the Julio César problem diminishes – even though it cannot be made to logically disappear – once it is recognised that the radical interpretation of an unfamiliar language is inevitably holistic, the evidence available invariably defeasible and consequently Cartesian certainty about the significance of the utterances of a foreign tongue neither to be sought after nor attained
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