, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 277–291 | Cite as

Incarnating Kripke’s Skepticism About Meaning

  • Eisuke Sakakibara
Original Article


Although Kripke’s skepticism leads to the conclusion that meaning does not exist, his argument relies upon the supposition that more than one interpretation of words is consistent with linguistic evidence. Relying solely on metaphors, he assumes that there is a multiplicity of possible interpretations without providing any strict proof. In his book The Taming of the True, Neil Tennant pointed out that there are serious obstacles to this thesis and concluded that the skeptic’s nonstandard interpretations are “will o’ wisps.” In this paper, contra Tennant, I demonstrate how to construct alternative interpretations of the language of algebra. These constructed interpretations avoid Tennant’s objections and are shown to be interdefinable with the standard interpretation. Kripke’s skepticism is, as it were, an incarnate demon. In contrast, it is currently uncertain whether the same technique is generally applicable to the construction of an alternative interpretation of natural language. However, the reinterpretation of those aspects of natural language that directly relate to numbers seems to be a promising candidate for the development of nonstandard interpretations of natural language.


Natural Language Alternative Interpretation Function Symbol Predicate Symbol Universal Quantifier 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Prof. T. Iida from Nihon University who provided enlightening comments and suggestions. I am also indebt to anonymous reviewers whose meticulous comments were an enormous help to me.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Center of Neurology and PsychiatryKodairaJapan

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