Conceptual errors and social externalism

Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):265-273 (2003)
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├ůsa Maria Wikforss has proposed a response to Burge's thought-experiments in favour of social externalism, one which allows the individualist to maintain that narrow content is truth-conditional without being idiosyncratic. The narrow aim of this paper is to show that Wikforss' argument against social externalism fails, and hence that the individualist position she endorses is inadequate. The more general aim is to attain clarity on the social externalist thesis. Social externalism need not rest, as is typically thought, on the possibility of incomplete linguistic understanding or conceptual error. I identify the unifying principle that underlies the various externalist thought-experiments

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Sarah Sawyer
University of Sussex


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