Semantic dispositionalism and the rule‐following paradox

Metaphilosophy 53 (5):685-695 (2022)
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In virtue of what does a sign have meaning? This is the question raised by Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations. Semantic dispositionalism is a (type of) theory that purports to answer this question. The present paper argues that semantic dispositionalism faces a heretofore unnoticed problem, one that ultimately comes down to its reliance on unanalyzed notions of repeated types of signs. In the context of responding to the rule-following paradox—and offering a putative solution to it—this amounts to simply assuming a solution to the problem in one domain and using it to solve the same problem in another. Given, moreover, the level at which the rule-following paradox undercuts dispositionalism—the level of the notion of a sign's repetition—the objections made to the view also rule out causal/informational theories of meaning as well as communitarian/assertion-theoretic ones as potential solutions to the rule-following paradox.

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Elek Lane
University of California, Berkeley


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