Christmas pudding.If certain characteristicsarepresent and others ab-sent, thenthiswillsuffice in all normal circumstancesfor the identifica-tion. But what if the standard criteriaare satisfied andthenitturns outthat this apparently otherwise normalgold emits radiation (asin Wais-mann'sexample)or thatthisChristmaspuddingtalks(asin theAus-tralian fairy story)? Are wetosaythat after all this isnotgold ornota Christmas pudding, or are we tosay that we were mistaken abouttheproperties of gold or of Christmaspuddings?
Ido not want topursueWaismann'sdiscussionfurther;what Iwantto note is that the force of his pointdependsupon a contrastbetweentheapplication of criteria (i) in whathave been up to now normal cir-cumstances, (ii) as a result of experiencein standard conditions-andnote that thesearenotthe same-andtheir applicationinabnormalorradically new situations. This contrastis also embodied in Hilary Put-nam'sarguments about 'aluminum'and 'dreaming'when Putnamshowsthat to convey the normal use of aword involves certain sets of whathecalls "core facts."' I can put thematter like this: bothWaismannandPutnam have shown that there is nota finite and determinate set of neces-saryandsufficient conditions whichdetermine the application ofacon-cept (Waismann) or a word (Putnam);but the examples which theycite also reveal that in normal circumstancesand in standard conditionswecan behave as
there were sucha finite and determinate setandwe do indeed so behave. Otherwiseevery question of fact wouldbeindefinitely debatable, and whileevery assertion of fact is potentiallyopen to question, every such assertionis not always actually open toquestion.Naturalscience settles certaindebates at least temporarilyandprovisionally.But inlarge areasofsocialinquiry there are not even temporary
andprovisional settlements. We donot know how to decide whetheragiven alleged instance of a phenomenonis to be treated as a counter-example to a proposed generalizationor as not an example of the phe-nomenonatall, because debate remainsopen about which the central,standard,andparadigmatic instancesof the phenomenon are. Giventhatthis is empirically the case in socialinquiry (and only seems not to bethecase when there is a highly selectivepresentation of the situationas
in the InternationalEncyclopediaof the Social Sciences), the suggestion
that what the social sciences needis more industriousness and that dis-agreements over the questions I citedearlier are merely due to the opentexture ofconcepts begins to appearimplausible. Waismann spokeofanessentialincompletenessofempiricaldescriptionwhich arisesfromopentexture.Thelack of evenprovisionalandtemporaryclosureto
1.Hilary Putnam, "Is SemanticsPossible?"Metaphilosophy1(1970): 187-201.