What’s So Special About Sentences?

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This paper is a discussion of Frege's maxim that it is only in the context of a sentence that a word has a meaning. Quine reads the maxim as saying that the sentence is the fundamental unit of significance. Dummett rejects this as a truism. But it is not a truism since it stands in opposition to a conception of meaning held by John Locke and others. The maxim denies that a word has a sense independently of any sentence in which it occurs. Dummett says this denial is inconsistent with the fact that people understand sentences they have never heard before. The maxim is defended against this attack.
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