Content and Meaning Constitutive Inferences

Studia Semiotyczne 33 (1):29–47 (2019)
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Abstract
A priori theories of justification of logic based on meaning often lead to trouble, in particular to issues concerning circularity. First, I present Boghossian’s a prioriview. Boghossian maintains the rule-circular justifications from a conceptual role semantics. However, rule-circular justifications are problematic. Recently, Boghossian (Boghossian, 2015) has claimed that rules should be thought of as contents and contents as abstract objects. In this paper, I discuss Boghossian’s view. My argumentation consists of three main parts. First, I analyse several arguments to show that in fact, Boghossian’s inferentialist solution is not fully satisfying. Second, I discuss the matter further, if one accepts that basic logical rules are constitutive of meaning, that is, they constitute the logical concepts and the content of a rule is an abstract object, then abstract objects — like, for example, rules — could be constitutive of meaning. The question is whether conceptual priority is in the judgment or in the object and what theory of content is pursued. Grasping content as a matter of knowing how a word or concept behaves in inferences is not completely explicative. Finally, I contend that rules come to exist as a result of certain kinds of mental action. These actions function as constitutive norms. Logical rules are not abstract objects but ideal. What one construes as norms or rules of content may involve idealization, but this is because we share a language.
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