Discussion:
A Quinian Crossword Puzzle
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Mark Iredell
2007-12-29 23:50:25 UTC
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In an appendix to his book Breaking the Spell, Daniel Dennett gives
his "Quinian Crossword Puzzle," named after philosopher W.V.O. Quine
who wrote a famous treatise on the indeterminacy of translation.

According to Dennett: "It is not easy concocting a crossword puzzle
with two equally good solutions, but here is one. Which is the real
solution? Neither, for I deliberately set out to make it that way."

Here's the puzzle, with its original unconventional numbering.
[Monospaced font required.]

A Quinian Crossword Puzzle

+----+----+----+----+
|1 |2 |3 |4 |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+
|2 | | | |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+
|3 | | | |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+
|4 | | | |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+

Across
1. Dirty stuff
2. A great human need
3. To make smooth
4. Movie actor

Down
1. Vehicle dependent on H2O
2. We usually want this
3. Just above
4. U.S. state (abbrev.)

No solution was found in the book. I think I've discovered the two
intended indeterminate solutions, although I'm not absolutely sure.
I'll post my attempt as a follow-up.
Mark Iredell
2007-12-29 23:53:05 UTC
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Post by Mark Iredell
In an appendix to his book Breaking the Spell, Daniel Dennett gives
his "Quinian Crossword Puzzle," named after philosopher W.V.O. Quine
who wrote a famous treatise on the indeterminacy of translation.
According to Dennett: "It is not easy concocting a crossword puzzle
with two equally good solutions, but here is one. Which is the real
solution? Neither, for I deliberately set out to make it that way."
Here's the puzzle, with its original unconventional numbering.
[Monospaced font required.]
A Quinian Crossword Puzzle
+----+----+----+----+
|1 |2 |3 |4 |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+
|2 | | | |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+
|3 | | | |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+
|4 | | | |
| | | | |
+----+----+----+----+
Across
1. Dirty stuff
2. A great human need
3. To make smooth
4. Movie actor
Down
1. Vehicle dependent on H2O
2. We usually want this
3. Just above
4. U.S. state (abbrev.)
No solution was found in the book. I think I've discovered the two
intended indeterminate solutions, although I'm not absolutely sure.
I'll post my attempt as a follow-up.
Here are my solutions. The LOVE duplication makes me unsure.

+----+----+----+----+
|1 |2 |3 |4 |
| S | L | O | P |
+----+----+----+----+
|2 | | | |
| L | O | V | E |
+----+----+----+----+
|3 | | | |
| E | V | E | N |
+----+----+----+----+
|4 | | | |
| D | E | R | N |
+----+----+----+----+

+----+----+----+----+
|1 |2 |3 |4 |
| S | M | U | T |
+----+----+----+----+
|2 | | | |
| H | O | P | E |
+----+----+----+----+
|3 | | | |
| I | R | O | N |
+----+----+----+----+
|4 | | | |
| P | E | N | N |
+----+----+----+----+

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