The Julio César Problem
Article first published online: 27 JUL 2005
Volume 59, Issue 2, pages 223–236, June 2005
How to Cite
MacBride, F. (2005), The Julio César Problem. Dialectica, 59: 223–236. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2005.01028.x
- Issue published online: 27 JUL 2005
- Article first published online: 27 JUL 2005
One version of the Julius Caesar problem arises when we demand assurance that expressions drawn from different theories or stretches of discourse (‘2’, ‘Julius Caesar’) refer to different things. The counter-Caesar problem arises when assurance is demanded that expressions drawn from different theories (‘0’, ‘Nx : x≠x’). refer to the same thing. The Julio César problem generalises from the counter-Caesar problem. It arises when we seek reassurance that expressions (singular terms) drawn from different languages refer to the same kind of things (objects). If the Julio César problem is not resolved then the Fregean account of numbers as objects is cast into doubt, the notion of number left relative to a language. Wright introduced this problem (albeit without making the connection with the family of Caesar problems just made) by asking whether there can be such a thing as ‘International Platonism’. After rejecting Hale's attempt to resolve it I argue that the threat posed by the Julio César problem diminishes – even though it cannot be made to logically disappear – once it is recognised that the radical interpretation of an unfamiliar language is inevitably holistic, the evidence available invariably defeasible and consequently Cartesian certainty about the significance of the utterances of a foreign tongue neither to be sought after nor attained.