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By James H. Fetzer (auth.), James H. Fetzer, David Shatz, George N. Schlesinger (eds.)

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G. 'Boche'. The condition for applying the term to someone is that he is of German nationality; the consequences of its application are that he is barbarous and more prone to cruelty than other Europeans. We should envisage the connections in both directions as sufficiently tight as to be involved in the very meaning of the word; neither could be severed without altering its meaning. Someone who rejects the word does so because he does not want to permit a transition from the grounds for applying the term to the consequences of doing so.

It does not, because marking our decision as the key pending factor in a borderline case does not justify suspending the logical reasoning that requires a breakpoint in a sorites series [Cargile (1969»). The logical revisions can be made arbitrarily and successfully if done with skill at the formulation of formal rules. But they do not get a rationale from the idea that our decision makes the difference, an idea compatible with a platonistic classical logic. It is usually more congenial to me to say of a borderline case that we do not know whether the term applies than to say that we have not decided and thus determined its range of application.

Obviously, opinion polls do have some role in finding out what words mean. But it is not always a straightforward one. People's responses to a term determine its meaning, but often in a complex, indirect way. It is a mistake to think that a stipulation can guarantee the required responses. Someone who sees the observed behavior of sliding blocks as confirming a formula for kinetic energy is confused if he then insists the formula reflects a stipulation. He is just not well aware of how his language functions.

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