Principle of Humanity

Discipline: Philosophy

Principle named by RICHARD E GRANDY in 1973 as a supplement to the principle of charity.

It says that when interpreting another speaker we must assume not simply that he is intelligent and so on, but that his beliefs and desires are connected to each other and to reality in a way that makes him as similar to ourselves as possible.

As with the principle of charity, this principle is not -in the view of thinkers like Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) - only intended for interpreting remote civilizations (see indeterminacy of reference and translation) since we apply it automatically in our daily intercourse.

R E Grandy, The Journal of Philosophy, (1973), 443;
I Hacking, Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy? (1975), 146-50


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