Referential consistency as a a criterion of meaning

Synthese 52 (2):267 - 282 (1982)
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Abstract

NOTE TO THE READER - December, 2021 ●●●●● After a long period of time devoted to research in other areas, the author returned to the subject of this paper in a book-length study, CRITIQUE OF IMPURE REASON: Horizons of Possibility and Meaning. In this book (Chapter 11, “The Metalogic of Meaning”), the position developed in the 1982 paper, "Referential Consistency as a Criterion of Meaning", has been substantively revised and several important corrections made. It is recommended that readers read the revised and corrected version that appears in the book, CRITIQUE OF IMPURE REASON. ●●●●● The book is available in a printed edition, ISBN 978-0-578-88646-6, from online booksellers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and through independent bookstores. The book is also available as a freely downloadable _corrected second edition_ eBook, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.5458352, through PhilSci, PhilPapers, HAL, and other online archives. ●●●●● In addition to the above-mentioned book, readers may find "A Primer on Bartlett's CRITIQUE OF IMPURE REASON" to be useful as a guide to the nearly 900-page CRITIQUE. The primer is available as a free download through PhilPapers. ●●●●● "Referential Consistency as a Criterion of Meaning" describes a logically compelling criterion of meaning — that is, a necessary condition of meaning, one which is non-arbitrary and compelling. One cannot _not_ accept the proposed criterion without self-referential inconsistency. This “metalogical” variety of self-referential inconsistency is new, opening a third category beyond semantical and pragmatical forms of self-referential inconsistency. ●●●●● It is argued that such a criterion of meaning can serve as an instrument of internal criticism for any theoretical framework that permits reference to a class of objects. The paper combines the concern of the logical empiricists to formulate a rigorous meaning criterion, with the analytical interest in identifying and eliminating self-defeating statements through an analysis of the referential structure of theories. ●●●●● The paper is followed by a list of other publications by the author that further develop and extend the ideas presented here.

Author's Profile

Steven James Bartlett
Willamette University

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