Problem Set 06

1. The Frege Puzzle

In a short essay, explain the Frege Puzzle and explain how Frege's distinction between sense and reference is supposed to solve the problem while, at the same time, securing the possibility of linguistic communication. (20)

2. The Twin Earth Thought Experiment

In a long essay, explain the point Putnam makes in the following quote. Is he correct? Why or why not? What are we now to make of the notion that the mind is a kind of private theater in the head, to paraphrase? (30)

Of course, denying that meanings are in the head must have consequences for the philosophy of mind, but at the time I wrote those words I was unsure as to just what those consequences were. After all, such accomplishments as knowing the meaning of words and using words meaningfully are paradigmatic "mental abilities"; yet, I was not sure, when I wrote "The Meaning of 'Meaning,'" whether the moral of that essay should be that we shouldn't think of the meanings of words as lying in the mind at all, or whether (like John Dewey and William James) we should stop thinking of the mind as something "in the head" and think of it rather as a system of environment-involving capacities and interactions. In the end, I equivocated between these views. I said, on the one hand, that "meanings just ain't in the head," and, on the other hand, that the notion of the mind is ambiguous, and that, in one sense of "mental state" (I called mental states, in this supposed sense, 'narrow mental states'), our mental states are entirely in our heads, and in another sense (I called mental states in this supposed second sense "broad mental states"), a sense which includes such states as knowing the meaning of a word, our mental states are individuated by our relations to our environment and to other speakers and not simply by what goes on in our brains. Subsequently, under the influence of Tyler Burge and more recently of John McDowell as well, I have come to think that this conceded too much to the idea that the mind can be thought of as a private theater (situated inside the head).