Location, location, location


This piece was written as my Presidential Address at the Annual Conference of the Australasian Association of Philosophy, held at Melbourne University in July 1999. I discuss the view ‘that we can’t describe or theorise about the world from outside language.’ I call this idea ‘linguistic imprisonment’, and take it to be a platitude, although one that is interpreted very differently by different philosophers. In so far as language does depend on contingencies of our own ‘location’, how should we theorise about such matters? I distinguish two approaches, called ‘backgrounding’ and ‘foregrounding’. Roughly, the latter seeks to incorporate the contingencies into the content of claims that depend on them, whereas the former treats them as use conditions. I argue that linguistic imprisonment implies that not everything can be foregrounded, and apply the framework to a then-recent objection to expressivism by Jackson and Pettit.

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Huw Price
University of Bonn


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