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Reflections on Meaning

Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press ; (2005)

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  1. Categories We Live By: The Construction of Sex, Gender, Race, and Other Social Categories: Ásta, New York: Oxford University Press, 2018, Pp. Xi + 145, £64 (Hardback). [REVIEW]Megan A. Dean - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (3):623-627.
    As philosophers, we may be accustomed to asking ourselves—or at least having to explain to others—why we do philosophy. In Categories We Live By: The Construction of Sex, Gender, Race, and Other So...
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  • Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Language: The Legacy of the Philosophical Investigations: McNally, Thomas, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, Pp. Xi + 209, £75 (Hardback).Tony Lynch - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (3):621-623.
    In the preface to the Philosophical investigations, Wittgenstein notoriously wrote ‘It is not impossible that it should fall to the lot of this work in its poverty and in the darkness of this time,...
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  • Modal Fictionalism, Possible Worlds, and Artificiality.Andrea Sauchelli - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (4):411-21.
    Accounts of modality in terms of fictional possible worlds face an objection based on the idea that when modal claims are analysed in terms of fictions, the connection between analysans and analysandum seems artificial. Strong modal fictionalism, the theory according to which modal claims are analysed in terms of a fiction, has been defended by, among others, Seahwa Kim, who has recently claimed that the philosophical objection that the connection between modality and fictions is artificial can be met. I propose (...)
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  • CRITIQUE OF IMPURE REASON: Horizons of Possibility and Meaning.Steven James Bartlett - 2020 - Salem, USA: Studies in Theory and Behavior.
    The _Critique of Impure Reason: Horizons of Possibility and Meaning_ comprises a major and important contribution to philosophy. Thanks to the generosity of its publisher, this massive 885-page volume has been published as a free open access eBook (3.2MB). It inaugurates a revolutionary paradigm shift in philosophical thought by providing compelling and long-sought-for solutions to a wide range of philosophical problems. In the process, the work fundamentally transforms the way in which the concepts of reference, meaning, and possibility are understood. (...)
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  • Representing as Adapting.Benjamin Jarvis - 2015 - Acta Analytica 30 (1):17-39.
    In this paper, I recommend a creature-level theory of representing. On this theory, a creature represents some entity just in case the creature adapts its behavior to that entity. Adapting is analyzed in terms of establishing new patterns of behavior. The theory of representing as adapting is contrasted with traditional causal and informational theories of mental representation. Moreover, I examine the theory in light of Putnam-Burge style externalism; I show that Putnam-Burge style externalism follows from and is explained by it. (...)
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  • Norms of Intentionality: Norms That Don’T Guide.Benjamin Jarvis - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 157 (1):1-25.
    More than ever, it is in vogue to argue that no norms either play a role in or directly follow from the theory of mental content. In this paper, I present an intuitive theory of intentionality (including a theory of mental content) on which norms are constitutive of the intentional properties of attitude and content in order to show that this trend is misguided. Although this theory of intentionality—the teleological theory of intentional representation—does involve a commitment to representational norms, these (...)
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  • Theories of Meaning.Jeff Speaks - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Consciousness.Tony Cheng - 2019 - In Heather Salazar (ed.), Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind. Quebec: Rebus Foundation Publishing. pp. 41-48.
    The term “consciousness” is very often, though not always, interchangeable with the term “awareness,” which is more colloquial to many ears. We say things like “are you aware that ...” often. Sometimes we say “have you noticed that ... ?” to express similar thoughts, and this indicates a close connection between consciousness (awareness) and attention (noticing), which we will come back to later in this chapter. Ned Block, one of the key figures in this area, provides a useful characterization of (...)
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  • Horwich on Natural and Non-Natural Meaning.Steffen Borge - 2014 - Acta Analytica 29 (2):229-253.
    Paul Horwich’s Use Theory of Meaning (UTM) depends on his rejection of Paul Grice’s distinction between natural and non-natural meaning and his Univocality of Meaning Thesis, as he wishes to deflate the meaning-relation to usage. Horwich’s programme of deflating the meaning-relation (i.e. how words, sentences, etc., acquire meaning) to some basic regularity of usage cannot be carried through if the meaning-relation depends on the minds of users. Here, I first give a somewhat detailed account of the distinction between natural and (...)
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  • The Reliability Challenge and the Epistemology of Logic.Joshua Schechter - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):437-464.
    We think of logic as objective. We also think that we are reliable about logic. These views jointly generate a puzzle: How is it that we are reliable about logic? How is it that our logical beliefs match an objective domain of logical fact? This is an instance of a more general challenge to explain our reliability about a priori domains. In this paper, I argue that the nature of this challenge has not been properly understood. I explicate the challenge (...)
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  • Innateness.Steven Gross & Georges Rey - forthcoming - In Eric Margolis, Richard Samuels & Stephen Stich (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press.
    A survey of innateness in cognitive science, focusing on (1) what innateness might be, and (2) whether concepts might be innate.
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  • Pluralism and the Absence of Truth.Jeremy Wyatt - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Connecticut
    In this dissertation, I argue that we should be pluralists about truth and in turn, eliminativists about the property Truth. Traditional deflationists were right to suspect that there is no such property as Truth. Yet there is a plurality of pluralities of properties which enjoy defining features that Truth would have, were it to exist. So although, in this sense, truth is plural, Truth is non-existent. The resulting account of truth is indebted to deflationism as the provenance of the suspicion (...)
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  • Disagreement and the Normativity of Truth Beneath Cognitive Command.Filippo Ferrari - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Aberdeen
    This thesis engages with three topics and the relationships between them: (i) the phenomenon of disagreement (paradigmatically, where one person makes a claim and another denies it); (ii) the normative character of disagreements (the issue of whether, and in what sense, one of the parties is “at fault” for believing something that’s untrue); (iii) the issue of which theory of what truth is can best accommodate the norms relating belief and truth. People disagree about all sorts of things: about whether (...)
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  • The Many (yet Few) Faces of Deflationism.Jeremy Wyatt - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly (263):362-382.
    It's often said that according to deflationary theories of truth, truth is not a ‘substantial’ property. While this is a fine slogan, it is far from transparent what deflationists mean (or ought to mean) in saying that truth is ‘insubstantial’. Focusing so intently upon the concept of truth and the word ‘true’, I argue, deflationists and their critics have been insufficiently attentive to a host of metaphysical complexities that arise for deflationists in connection with the property of truth. My aim (...)
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  • Epistemo-Semantic Coherentism: An Attitudinal View of Meaning Based on Epistemic Pragmatism.İskender Taşdelen - 2019 - Studia Semiotyczne 33 (1):59-82.
    This article develops a conception of linguistic meaning that treats it as an attitude on the part of language users towards pairs of expressions. As with propositional attitudes, these meaning attitudes are subject to being deliberately altered over time by language users, with the aim of maximizing the efficiency of their language use. Therefore, meaning attitudes can be justified or refuted in practical terms. Our instrumentalist-coherentist approach, which allows for meanings to be advocated for alongside beliefs, provides a viable theory (...)
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  • Gender Muddle: Reply to Dembroff.Alex Byrne - manuscript
    Dembroff’s “Escaping the natural attitude about gender” replies to my “Are women adult human females?”. This paper responds to Dembroff’s numerous criticisms of my arguments, as well as to the charge that “Are women...” is “fundamentally is an unscholarly attempt to vindicate a political slogan that is currently being used to undermine civic rights and respect for trans persons”. I argue that Dembroff’s criticisms fail without exception, and explain why the claims about my motives are baseless.
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  • Semantic Dispositionalism Without Exceptions.Arvid Båve - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1751-1771.
    Semantic dispositionalism is roughly the view that meaning a certain thing by a word, or possessing a certain concept, consists in being disposed to do something, e.g., infer a certain way. Its main problem is that it seems to have so many and disparate exceptions. People can fail to infer as required due to lack of logical acumen, intoxication, confusion, deviant theories, neural malfunctioning, and so on. I present a theory stating possession conditions of concepts that are counterfactuals, rather than (...)
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  • Reflective Knowledge and the Nature of Truth.José L. Zalabardo - 2016 - Disputatio 8 (43):147-171.
    I consider the problem of reflective knowledge faced by views that treat sensitivity as a sufficient condition for knowledge, or as a major ingredient of the concept, as in the analysis I advance in Scepticism and Reliable Belief. I present the problem as concerning the correct analysis of SATs — beliefs to the effect that one of my current beliefs is true. I suggest that a plausible analysis of SATs should treat them as neither true nor false when they ascribe (...)
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  • Semantic Holism and Language Learning.Martin Jönsson - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (4):725-759.
    Holistic theories of meaning have, at least since Dummett’s Frege: The Philosophy of language, been assumed to be problematic from the perspective of the incremental nature of natural language learning. In this essay I argue that the general relationship between holism and language learning is in fact the opposite of that claimed by Dummett. It is only given a particular form of language learning, and a particular form of holism, that there is a problem at all; in general, for all (...)
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  • The Problem with Descriptive Correctness.Jeffrey Kaplan - 2020 - Ratio 33 (2):79-86.
    In the 1980s and early 1990s, the normativity of meaning was thought to be more-or-less 'incontestable.' But in the last 25 years, many philosophers of mind and language have contested it in several seemingly different ways. This, however, is somewhat illusory. There is an unappreciated commonality among most anti-normativist arguments, and this commonality, I argue, poses a problem for anti-normativism. The result, however, is not a wholesale rejection of anti-normativism. Rather, an insight from the anti-normativist position can be harnessed to (...)
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  • On the Value and Nature of Truth.Gurpreet Rattan - 2008 - Journal of Philosophical Research 33:235-251.
    The thought that truth is valuable for its own sake is obvious, yet difficult to explicate in a precise and vindicating way. The paper tries to explicate and vindicate this thought with an argument for the conclusion that truth is an epistemic value. Truth is an epistemic value in the sense that a commitment to the value of truth plays a role in the justification and explanation of a fundamental aspect of our epistemic practice, namely, critical reflection. The paper also (...)
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  • Meaning, Intentionality and Communication.Pierre Jacob - 2011 - In Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger & Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 11--25.
    This chapter probes the connections between the metaphysics of meaning and the investigation of human communication. It first argues that contemporary philosophy of mind has inherited most of its metaphysical questions from Brentano's puzzling definition of intentionality. Then it examines how intentionality came to occupy the forefront of pragmatics in three steps. By investigating speech acts, Austin and ordinary language philosophers pioneered the study of intentional actions performed by uttering sentences of natural languages. Based on his novel concept of speaker's (...)
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  • Toward a Sharp Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction.Megan Henricks Stotts - 2020 - Synthese 197 (1):185–208.
    The semantics/pragmatics distinction was once considered central to the philosophy of language, but recently the distinction’s viability and importance have been challenged. In opposition to the growing movement away from the distinction, I argue that we really do need it, and that we can draw the distinction sharply if we draw it in terms of the distinction between non-mental and mental phenomena. On my view, semantic facts arise from context-independent meaning, compositional rules, and non-mental elements of context, whereas pragmatic facts (...)
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  • On Compositionality.Martin Jönsson - 2008 - Dissertation, Lund University
    The goal of inquiry in this essay is to ascertain to what extent the Principle of Compositionality – the thesis that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meaning of its parts and its mode of composition – can be justifiably imposed as a constraint on semantic theories, and thereby provide information about what meanings are. Apart from the introduction and the concluding chapter the thesis is divided into five chapters addressing different questions pertaining to the overarching (...)
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  • A Deflationist Error Theory of Properties.Arvid Båve - 2015 - Dialectica 69 (1):23-59.
    I here defend a theory consisting of four claims about ‘property’ and properties, and argue that they form a coherent whole that can solve various serious problems. The claims are (1): ‘property’ is defined by the principles (PR): ‘F-ness/Being F/etc. is a property of x iff F’ and (PA): ‘F-ness/Being F/etc. is a property’; (2) the function of ‘property’ is to increase the expressive power of English, roughly by mimicking quantification into predicate position; (3) property talk should be understood at (...)
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  • Inferentialism.Florian Steinberger & Julien Murzi - 2017 - In Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Language. Wiley Blackwell. pp. 197-224.
    This article offers an overview of inferential role semantics. We aim to provide a map of the terrain as well as challenging some of the inferentialist’s standard commitments. We begin by introducing inferentialism and placing it into the wider context of contemporary philosophy of language. §2 focuses on what is standardly considered both the most important test case for and the most natural application of inferential role semantics: the case of the logical constants. We discuss some of the (alleged) benefits (...)
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  • The Argument From Intransigence For Non-Cognitivism.Jussi Suikkanen - 2007 - Philosophical Writings 35 (2).
    There is a classic disagreement in moral psychology about the mental states that constitute the sincere acceptance of moral claims. Cognitivists hold that these states are beliefs aiming at a correct description of the world; whereas non-cognitivists argue that they must be some other kind of attitude. Mark Eli Kalderon has recently presented a new argument for non-cognitivism. He argues that all cognitivist inquiries include certain epistemic obligations for the participants in cases of disagreement in the inquiry. I will provide (...)
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  • A Deflationary Theory of Reference.Arvid Båve - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):51 - 73.
    The article first rehearses three deflationary theories of reference, (1) disquotationalism, (2) propositionalism (Horwich), and (3) the anaphoric theory (Brandom), and raises a number of objections against them. It turns out that each corresponds to a closely related theory of truth, and that these are subject to analogous criticisms to a surprisingly high extent. I then present a theory of my own, according to which the schema “That S(t) is about t” and the biconditional “S refers to x iff S (...)
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  • Inference and Rational Commitment.James Trafford - 2013 - Prolegomena 12 (1):5-20.
    This peer-reviewed paper intervenes in debates relating to overarching themes that impact upon mass media studies, communication theory and theories of cognition more generally. In particular, the paper discusses issues involving how our ordinary psychological thinking relates to norms of rationality (and how these latter are conceived). In essence, I argue against a dominant approach taken by Christopher Peacocke, that rationality can be grounded in the possession of certain concepts. The article makes a new contribution to the field by arguing (...)
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  • Truth as an Evaluative, Semantic Property: A Defence of the Linguistic Priority Thesis.Jacob Berkson - unknown
    Thinking and using a language are two different but similar activities. Thinking about thinking and thinking about language use have been two major strands in the history of philosophy. One of the principal similarities is that they are both rational activities. As a result, the ability to think and the ability to use a language require being able to recognise and respond to reasons. However, there is a further feature of these activities: we humans are able to have explicit knowledge (...)
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  • Conservatives and Racists: Inferential Role Semantics and Pejoratives.Daniel J. Whiting - 2008 - Philosophia 36 (3):375-388.
    According to inferential role semantics, for any given expression to possess a particular meaning one must be disposed to make or, alternatively, acknowledge as correct certain inferential transitions involving it. As Williamson points out, pejoratives such as ‘Boche’ seem to provide a counter-example to IRS. Many speakers are neither disposed to use such expressions nor consider it proper to do so. But it does not follow, as IRS appears to entail, that such speakers do not understand pejoratives or that they (...)
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  • Truth and Meaning Redux.Ernie Lepore & Kirk Ludwig - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (2):251-77.
    In this paper, we defend Davidson's program in truth-theoretical semantics against recent criticisms by Scott Soames. We argue that Soames has misunderstood Davidson's project, that in consequence his criticisms miss the mark, that appeal to meanings as entities in the alternative approach that Soames favors does no work, and that the approach is no advance over truth-theoretic semantics.
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  • The Philosophy of Generative Linguistics.Peter Ludlow - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    Peter Ludlow presents the first book on the philosophy of generative linguistics, including both Chomsky's government and binding theory and his minimalist ...
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  • The Use of ‘Use’.Daniel Whiting - 2008 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 76 (1):135-147.
    Many equate the meaning of a linguistic expression with its use. This paper investigates prominent objections to the equivalence claim and argues that they are unsuccessful. Once one suitably distinguishes the kind of use to be identified with meaning, the two do not diverge. Doing so, however, requires employing terms that are cognates of ‘meaning’ (if not ‘meaning’ itself). Nonetheless, I stress, this does not count against the equivalence claim. Moreover, one should not assume that the circularity on this occasion (...)
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  • The Semantics of Moral Communication.Richard Brown - 2008 - Dissertation, The Graduate Center, CUNY
    Adviser: Professor Stefan Baumrin In the first chapter I introduce the distinction between metaethics and normative ethics and argue that metaethics, properly conceived, is a part of cognitive science. For example, the debate between rationalism and sentimentalism can be informed by recent empirical work in psychology and the neurosciences. In the second chapter I argue that the traditional view that one’s theory of semantics determines what one’s theory of justification must be is mistaken. Though it has been the case that (...)
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  • On Epistemic Conceptions of Meaning: Use, Meaning and Normativity.Daniel Whiting - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 17 (3):416-434.
    A number of prominent philosophers advance the following ideas: (1) Meaning is use. (2) Meaning is an intrinsically normative notion. Call (1) the use thesis, hereafter UT, and (2) the normativity thesis, hereafter NT. They come together in the view that for a linguistic expression to have meaning is for there to be certain proprieties governing its employment.1 These ideas are often associated with a third.
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  • A Précis of Understanding People: Normativity and Rationalizing Explanation.Alan Millar - 2007 - SWIF Philosophy of Mind 6 (1).
    The article provides a summary of the author's book Understanding People: Normativity and Rationalizing Explanation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004). It details three areas in which the notion of a normative commitment is made central. These are (1) believing and intending, (2) practices conceived as essentially rule-governed activities, and (3) meaning and concepts. An account is given of how we may best explain the commitments incurred by beliefs and intentions. It is held that those states are themselves essentially normative. A problem (...)
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  • The Creative Aspect of Language Use and the Implications for Linguistic Science.Eran Asoulin - 2013 - Biolinguistics 7:228-248.
    The creative aspect of language use provides a set of phenomena that a science of language must explain. It is the “central fact to which any signi- ficant linguistic theory must address itself” and thus “a theory of language that neglects this ‘creative’ aspect is of only marginal interest” (Chomsky 1964: 7–8). Therefore, the form and explanatory depth of linguistic science is restricted in accordance with this aspect of language. In this paper, the implications of the creative aspect of language (...)
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  • Trivial Languages.Arvid Båve - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (1):1-17.
    I here present and defend what I call the Triviality Theory of Truth, to be understood in analogy with Matti Eklund’s Inconsistency Theory of Truth. A specific formulation of is defended and compared with alternatives found in the literature. A number of objections against the proposed notion of meaning-constitutivity are discussed and held inconclusive. The main focus, however, is on the problem, discussed at length by Gupta and Belnap, that speakers do not accept epistemically neutral conclusions of Curry derivations. I (...)
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  • Self-Consciousness and Reductive Functionalism.Arvid Båve - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (266):1-21.
    It is argued that although George Bealer's influential ‘Self-Consciousness argument’ refutes standard versions of reductive functionalism (RF), it fails to generalize in the way Bealer supposes. To wit, he presupposes that any version of RF must take the content of ‘pain’ to be the property of being in pain (and so on), which is expressly rejected in independently motivated versions of conceptual role semantics (CRS). Accordingly, there are independently motivated versions of RF, incorporating CRS, which avoid Bealer's main type of (...)
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  • The Search for the "Essence of Human Language" in Wittgenstein and Davidson.Jason Bridges - forthcoming - In Claudine Verheggen (ed.), Wittgenstein and Davidson on Language, Thought and Action. cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 139-158.
    This paper offers an interpretation of the later Wittgenstein's handling of the idea of an "essence of human language", and examines in particular his treatment of the 'Augustinean' vision of reference as constituting this "essence". A central theme of the interpretation is the perennial philosophical desire to impose upon linguistic meaning conceptual templates drawn from outside the forms of thought about meaning in which we engage when we exercise our capacity to speak and understand a language. The paper closes with (...)
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  • Borderline Cases and Definiteness.Zoltán Vecsey - 2012 - Prolegomena 11 (2):197-206.
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  • Compositionality II: Arguments and Problems.Peter Pagin & Dag Westerståhl - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (3):265-282.
    This is the second part of a two-part article on compositionality, i.e. the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and the way they are put together. In the first, Pagin and Westerståhl (2010), we provide a general historical background, a formal framework, definitions, and a survey of variants of compositionality. It will be referred to as Part I. Here we discuss arguments for and against the claim that natural languages have (...)
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  • Justice for Earthlings.Richard Arneson - 2015 - Analysis 75 (2):324-332.
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  • Meaning and Normativity. [REVIEW]Julie Yoo - 2015 - Analysis 75 (2):310-324.
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  • Inference and Action: Relating Beliefs to the World.Javier Gonzalez De Prado Salas - unknown
    The goal of this dissertation is to offer a practice-based account of intentionality. My aim is to examine what sort of practices agents have to engage in so as to count as talking and thinking about the way the world is – that is, what sort of practices count as representational. Representational practices answer to the way the world is: what is correct within such practices depends on the way things are, rather than on the attitudes of agents. An account (...)
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  • Leave Truth Alone: On Deflationism and Contextualism.Daniel Whiting - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):607-624.
    Abstract: According to deflationism, grasp of the concept of truth consists in nothing more than a disposition to accept a priori (non-paradoxical) instances of the schema:(DS) It is true that p if and only if p.According to contextualism, the same expression with the same meaning might, on different occasions of use, express different propositions bearing different truth-conditions (where this does not result from indexicality and the like). On this view, what is expressed in an utterance depends in a non-negligible way (...)
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  • The Normativity of Meaning Defended.Daniel Whiting - 2007 - Analysis 67 (2):133-140.
    Meaning, according to a significant number of philosophers, is an intrinsically normative notion.1 For this reason, it is suggested, meaning is not conducive to a naturalistic explanation. In this paper, I shall not address whether this is indeed so. Nor shall I present arguments in support of the normativity thesis (see Glock 2005; Kripke 1982). Instead, I shall examine and respond to two forceful objections recently (and independently) raised against it by Boghossian (2005), Hattiangadi (2006) and Miller (2006). Although I (...)
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  • Meaning Holism and De Re Ascription.Daniel Whiting - 2008 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):575-599.
    According to inferential role semantics (IRS), for an expression to have a particular meaning or express a certain concept is for subjects to be disposed to make, or to treat as proper, certain inferential transitions involving that expression.1 Such a theory of meaning is holistic, since according to it the meaning or concept any given expression possesses or expresses depends on the inferential relations it stands in to other expressions.
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  • Introduction, Transmission, and the Foundations of Meaning.Jeff Speaks - 2009 - In Sarah Sawyer (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy of Language. Palgrave-Macmillan.
    The most widely accepted and well worked out approaches to the foundations of meaning take facts about the meanings of linguistic expressions at a time to be derivative from the propositional attitudes of speakers of the language at that time. This mentalist strategy takes two principal forms, one which traces meaning to belief, and one which analyzes it in terms of communicative intentions. I argue that either form of mentalism fails, and conclude by suggesting that we can do better by (...)
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