more from Paul Horwich

Single Idea 6338

[catalogued under 19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 4. Meaning as Truth-Conditions]

Full Idea

Someone who does not understand German and is told 'Schnee ist weiss' is true if frozen H2O is white, does not understand the German sentence, even though he knows the truth-conditions.

Gist of Idea

We could know the truth-conditions of a foreign sentence without knowing its meaning


Paul Horwich (Truth (2nd edn) [1990], Ch.5.22 n1)

Book Reference

Horwich,Paul: 'Truth (2nd edn)' [OUP 1998], p.69

A Reaction

This sounds like a powerful objection to Davidson's well-known claim that meaning is truth-conditions. Horwich likes the idea that meaning is use, but I think a similar objection arises - you can use a sentence well without knowing its meaning.