Meaning and argument. A theory of meaning centred on immediate argumental role

Almqvist & Wiksell (1994)
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This study presents and develops in detail (a new version of) the argumental conception of meaning. The two basic principles of the argumental conception of meaning are: i) To know (implicitly) the sense of a word is to know (implicitly) all the argumentation rules concerning that word; ii) To know the sense of a sentence is to know the syntactic structure of that sentence and to know the senses of the words occurring in it. The sense of a sentence is called immediate argumental role of that sentence. According to the argumental conception of meaning a theory of meaning for a particular language yields a systematic specification of the understanding of every sentence of the language which consists in a specification of the immediate argumental role of the sentence. The immediate argumental role is a particular aspect of the use of a sentence in arguments. But it is not the whole use in arguments, nor is the whole use in arguments reducible to the immediate argumental role. That is why, by accepting the argumental conception of meaning, we can have epistemological holism without linguistic holism. The argumental conception distinguishes between the understanding and the correctness of a language. Such a distinction makes it possible to account for our understanding of paradoxical languages. Redundancy theory of truth, realistic conceptions of truth or epistemic conceptions of truth are all compatible with an argumental conception of sense. But here it is argued that an epistemic conception of truth is preferrable. Acceptance of the argumental conception of meaning and of an epistemic conception of truth leads to a rejection of the idea of analytic truth. The argumental conception is pluralistic with respect to the understandability of different logics, and neutral with respect to their correctness.

Author's Profile

Cesare Cozzo
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza


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