The Life of the Mind 8: Pia’s Green Leaves

Consider Pia who owns a Japanese Maple tree, with russet leaves. Thinking that the leaves should be green. Pia paints them, and having finished, she says “The leaves on my maple tree are green.”—apparently truly. Shortly afterwards, Pia receives a phone call from a friend, a botanist looking for green leaves for a study of green-leaf chemistry. Pia offers him the leaves from her Japanese Maple tree. This time, when she utters “The leaves on my maple tree are green.” she says something false. The same tree is referred to both times, and the tree’s leaves have not changed color between the first utterance and the second. Is what “counts as” being green different in the two contexts?

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