The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2000:89-97 (2000)
In a recent paper, Ebbs has given an elegant statement of a notable puzzle that has recurred in the literature since the original publication of Putnam’s “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’.” The puzzle can be formulated, for a certain characteristic case, along the following lines. There are very strong intuitions in support of a thesis that Putnam has explicitly endorsed, namely, the thesis: The extension of the word ‘gold’, as we use it now, is the same as the extension of ‘gold’, as it was used in 1650 (before the rise of molecular chemistry). However, strong convictions about language use and truth conditions also incline us to the view that the extension of a term, as it is used at a time t, is determined by facts about the use of the term in the language at or before t, together with the facts about the various items to which the term prospectively applied. This paper looks at the various issues involved regarding these matters
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