Principle of humanity

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.

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

In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of humanity states that when interpreting another speaker we must assume that his or her beliefs and desires are connected to each other and to reality in some way, and attribute to him or her “the propositional attitudes one supposes one would have oneself in those circumstances”.[1] The principle of humanity was named by Richard Grandy (then an assistant professor of philosophy at Princeton University) who first expressed it in 1973.

3 thoughts on “Principle of humanity

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