Referential consistency as a a criterion of meaning

Synthese 52 (2):267 - 282 (1982)
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NOTE TO THE READER - October, 2020¶¶ After a long period of time devoted to research in other areas, the author has returned to the subject of this paper in a book-length study, CRITIQUE OF IMPURE REASON: Horizons of Possibility and Meaning, which has been published as an open access eBook by Studies in Theory and Behavior in August, 2020. In this book (Chapter 11, “The Metalogic of Meaning”), the position developed in the 1982 paper that follows is substantively revised and several important corrections made. ¶¶ The complete volume of CRITIQUE OF IMPURE REASON: Horizons of Possibility and Meaning can now be freely downloaded from a variety of sources including: ¶¶ PhilPapers, PhilSci, Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe’s HAL, and CERN’s Zenodo¶¶ __________________________ This paper 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.¶¶
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