Towards a General Theory of Identifiability

  • Jaakko Hintikka
Part of the Jaakko Hintikka Selected Papers book series (HISP, volume 5)


What is identifiability, anyway, and what does it have to do with definitions and definability? The basic intuitive idea is clear. A concept (say, a one-place predicate P) occurring in a theory T[P] is definable on the basis of this theory iff the theory determines the interpretation of P as soon as the interpretations of the other concepts occurring in T[P] are fixed. More explicit, this is what, the definability of P on the basis of T[P] means.


Left Column Interpolation Theorem Interrogative Model Universal Reading Inquiry Pertain 
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    See here J. Hintikka and P. Sibelius, ‘Identification and Heisenbergian Uncertainty’, forthcoming.Google Scholar
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    Notice that in the principal wh-question to be answered through inquiry the whquestion is in effect given what I have called the universal reading, while the “small” questions through which it is answered is given an existential reading. (See here Jaakko Hintikka, The Semantics of Questions and the Questions of Semantics, Acta Philosophica Fennica, Vol. 28, No. 4, Societas Philosophica Fennica, Helsinki, 1976, especially ch. 4.) This is as it ought to be. The Inquirer is trying to extract the maximal information from the questioning procedure, and hence prefers the universal reading of whquestions. Nature is operating with the contrary purpose, and hence chooses the reading of wh-questions on which they have the least informative answers.Google Scholar
  27. 21.
    In writing this paper, I have profited greatly from cooperation with Stephen Harris.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaakko Hintikka
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston UniversityUSA

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