Synthese 132 (3):187-211 (2002)

Rohit Parikh
CUNY Graduate Center
We suggest that the issue of constructing and verifying social procedures, which we suggestively call "social software", be pursued as systematically as computer software is pursued by computer scientists. Certain complications do arise with social software which do not arise with computer software, but the similarities are nonetheless strong, and tools already exist which would enable us to start work on this important project. We give a variety of suggestive examples and indicate some theoretical work which already exists. I send someone shopping. I give him a slip marked "five red apples". He takes the slip to the shopkeeper who opens a drawer marked "apples"; then he looks up the word "red" in a table and finds a colour sample opposite it; then he says the series of cardinal numbers -- I assume he knows them by heart -- up to the word "five" and for each number he takes an apple of the same colour as the sample out of the drawer. "But what is the "meaning of the word 'five'?" No such thing was in question here, only how the word "five" is used.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1020391420768
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