We live forwards but understand backwards: Linguistic practices and future behavior

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2):157-177 (1999)
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Ascriptions of content are sensitive not only to our physical and social environment, but also to unforeseeable developments in the subsequent usage of our terms. This paper argues that the problems that may seem to come from endorsing such 'temporally sensitive' ascriptions either already follow from accepting the socially and historically sensitive ascriptions Burge and Kripke appeal to, or disappear when the view is developed in detail. If one accepts that one's society's past and current usage contributes to what one's terms mean, there is little reason not to let its future usage to do so as well.
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Intuitions.Andow, James

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