Meaning

Edited by Steven Gross (Johns Hopkins University)
About this topic
Summary

Words and phrases have meaning. But what are meanings? Maybe they are the objects and properties that our words are about. But then ‘Mark Twain’ and ‘Samuel Clemens’ would have the same meaning, even though one and the same person can affirm the sentence ‘Mark Twain was a great writer’ but reject the sentence ‘Samuel Clemens was a great writer.’ And what makes it the case that some squiggles or sounds are meaningful? Perhaps it’s because of the mental states of language users, but then in virtue of what do those states have their meaning or content? Might the explanation run in the other direction, so that our mental states have content only because we are language users? Also, can our grasp of what words mean explain our basic logical and mathematical knowledge and otherwise underwrite a compelling conception of the a priori? Perhaps it’s because we know what ‘and’ means that we know that ‘A and B’ is true just in case ‘A’ is true and ‘B’ is true. This category subsumes work that ranges over these and other questions concerning meaning and its bearing on a variety of philosophical topics.

Key works

Frege 1892 and Russell 1905 are seminal works on meaning and reference. Kripke 1980 and Putnam 1975 argue, among other things, that semantic properties are determined by factors external to language users. Grice 1957 and Davidson 1973 explore the relation of language and thought. Quine 1951 rejects the idea of philosophically interesting truths in virtue of meaning and knowledge in virtue of knowledge of meaning.

Introductions Speaks 2010 provides a survey with references. Richard 2003 is a good collection of articles.
Related categories
Subcategories:
Intentionality* (12,806 | 1,894)
History/traditions: Meaning

10488 found
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Material to categorize
  1. What’s the Linguistic Meaning of Delusional Utterances? Speech Act Theory as a Tool for Understanding Delusions.Julian Hofmann, Pablo Hubacher Haerle & Anke Maatz - 2023 - Philosophical Psychology.
    Delusions have traditionally been considered the hallmark of mental illness, and their conception, diagnosis and treatment raise many of the fundamental conceptual and practical questions of psychopathology. One of these fundamental questions is whether delusions are understandable. In this paper, we propose to consider the question of understandability of delusions from a philosophy of language perspective. For this purpose, we frame the question of how delusions can be understood as a question about the meaning of delusional utterances. Accordingly, we ask: (...)
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  2. The Bounds of Sense.A. W. Moore - 2023 - In Jens Pier (ed.), Limits of Intelligibility: Issues from Kant and Wittgenstein. London: Routledge.
    This is an updated version of an essay originally written for a special issue of Philosophical Topics on the links between Kant and analytic philosophy. It explores these links by focusing on: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus; the logical positivism endorsed by Ayer; and the (very different) variation on that theme endorsed by Quine. The claim defended is that in all three cases we see analytic philosophers trying to attain and express a general philosophical understanding of why the bounds of sense should be (...)
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  3. Is meaning cognized?David Balcarras - forthcoming - Mind and Language:1-20.
    In this article, I defend an account of linguistic comprehension on which meaning is not cognized, or on which we do not tacitly know our language's semantics. On this view, sentence comprehension is explained instead by our capacity to translate sentences into the language of thought. I explain how this view can explain our capacity to correctly interpret novel utterances, and then I defend it against several standing objections.
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  4. What Welby Wanted.James Pearson - 2022 - In Jeanne Peijnenburg & Sander Verhaegh (eds.), Women in the History of Analytic Philosophy. Cham: Springer. pp. 23-43.
    Although the significs movement that Victoria, Lady Welby (1837–1912) inspired was dedicated to better understanding meaning, she has largely been forgotten by analytic philosophers of language. Significs was to educate “the great world of hearers and the growing world of readers” to better interpret science and philosophy, evincing a focus on the audience for intellectual activity that it remains vital for academics to consider. Her arguments that the metaphorical associations of terminology are part of their significance for others also pertain (...)
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  5. Nonsense and the Dialectic of Order.Viatcheslav Vetrov - 2021 - In The Linguistic Picture of the World: Alice's Adventures in Many Languages. Baden-Baden, Deutschland: pp. 61-94.
    In this chapter, Nonsense is approached as a category that reveals a close relation both to order and disorder, rationality and illogicality, conventionality and arbitrariness, reality and dream. Among its various illustrations, quite a prominent role is assigned to the Duchess’ sentence, which, in spite of being universally acknowledged as one of the best pieces of Nonsense, is rarely discussed in detail in philosophical and literary investigations: ‘Be what you would seem to be’ - or, if you’d like it put (...)
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  6. The Philosophers' Alice.Viatcheslav Vetrov - 2021 - In The Linguistic Picture of the World: Alice's Adventures in Many Languages. Baden-Baden, Deutschland: pp. 135-167.
    Whatever theoretical perspective one adopts for interpreting Alice (mathematics, physics, psychoanalysis, etc.), reading it unfailingly turns into a series of unexpected discoveries. Yet probably no other readings prove to be as adventurous as the philosophical ones. Philosophers are inspired by the book to address a vast variety of issues, from the problem of internal meanings, i.e. the relation of saying to meaning, up to the existence of God and the creation of the world. In this chapter, I have tried to (...)
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  7. Ambiguous Statements about Akrasia.Luis Rosa - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (11):581-601.
    Epistemologists take themselves to disagree about whether there are situations where it is rational for one to believe that p and rational for one to believe that one’s evidence does not support p (rational akrasia). The embedded sentence ‘one’s evidence does not support p’ can be interpreted in two ways, however, depending on what the semantic contribution of ‘one’s evidence’ is taken to be. ‘One’s evidence’ might be seen as a sheer indexical or as a descriptive singular term. The first (...)
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  8. Two Conceptions of Absolute Generality.Salvatore Florio & Nicholas K. Jones - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    What is absolutely unrestricted quantification? We distinguish two theoretical roles and identify two conceptions of absolute generality: maximally strong generality and maximally inclusive generality. We also distinguish two corresponding kinds of absolute domain. A maximally strong domain contains every potential counterexample to a generalisation. A maximally inclusive domain is such that no domain extends it. We argue that both conceptions of absolute generality are legitimate and investigate the relations between them. Although these conceptions coincide in standard settings, we show how (...)
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  9. A Simple Logic of Concepts.Thomas F. Icard & Lawrence S. Moss - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-26.
    In Pietroski (2018) a simple representation language called SMPL is introduced, construed as a hypothesis about core conceptual structure. The present work is a study of this system from a logical perspective. In addition to establishing a completeness result and a complexity characterization for reasoning in the system, we also pinpoint its expressive limits, in particular showing that the fourth corner in the square of opposition (“Some_not”) eludes expression. We then study a seemingly small extension, called SMPL+, which allows for (...)
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  10. Davidson on Pure Intending: A Non-Reductionist Judgement-Dependent Account.Ali Hossein Khani - 2022 - Dialogue 61 (2):369-391.
    RésuméJe soutiendrai que la façon dont Davidson rend compte de l'intention pure peut être comprise comme une analyse de l'intention comme étant relative à un jugement dans une perspective en première personne. Selon Davidson, avoir la pure intention de faire A, c'est formuler un jugement tout bien considéré qu'il est désirable de faire A. Dans cette analyse anti-réductionniste, l'intention est traitée comme un état irréductible du sujet. J’établirai une comparaison entre cette analyse et celle de Wright et je montrerai comment (...)
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  11. Self-Expression in Speech Acts.Maciej Witek - 2021 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 2 (28):326-359.
    My aim in this paper is to examine Mitchell S. Green’s notion of self-expression and the role it plays in his model of illocutionary communication. The paper is organized into three parts. In Section 2, after discussing Green’s notions of illocutionary speaker meaning and self-expression, I consider the contribution that self-expression makes to the mechanisms of intentional communication; in particular, I introduce the notion of proto-illocutionary speaker meaning and argue that it is necessary to account for acts overtly showing general (...)
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  12. Prosody in recognizing dialogue-specific functions of speech acts. Evidence from Polish.Maciej Witek, Sara Kwiecień, Małgorzata Wrzosek, Mateusz Włodarczyk & Jakub Bondek - 2022 - Language Sciences 93:101499.
    In this paper we evaluate the role of prosodic information in inferring dialogue-specific functions of speech acts. We report the results of an empirical study in which participants are exposed to recordings of certain utterances and, next, asked to recognize discursive contexts from which the heard utterances may come. The recorded utterances are quotations: staged utterances produced by speakers asked to read aloud dialogues specially constructed for the study. We analyse prosodic cues produced by recorded speakers and argue that they (...)
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  13. An Austinian alternative to the Gricean perspective on meaning and communication,.Maciej Witek - 2022 - Journal of Pragmatics 201:60-75.
    My aim in this paper is to contribute to the debate on the foundations of semantics and pragmatics by developing an Austinian alternative to the Gricean programme. The Gricean approach has been criticised by Ernie Lepore and Matthew Stone who claim that most of the interpretive effects that are usually accounted for as inferentially recognized aspects of meaning are in fact determined by grammar. I argue, however, that it is the Austinian perspective rather than the extended-grammar outlook, that constitutes a (...)
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  14. Una Sfida Per la Teologia E la Liturgia.Andrea Grillo - 2013 - In Stefano Biancu & Andrea Grillo (eds.), Il simbolo--una sfida per la filosofia e per la teologia. San Paolo.
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  15. Una Sfida Per la Filosofia.Stefano Biancu - 2013 - In Stefano Biancu & Andrea Grillo (eds.), Il simbolo--una sfida per la filosofia e per la teologia. San Paolo.
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  16. Il simbolo--una sfida per la filosofia e per la teologia.Stefano Biancu & Andrea Grillo (eds.) - 2013 - Cinisello Balsamo (Milano): San Paolo.
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  17. Lingvistika, kommunikat︠s︡ii︠a︡ i istorii︠a︡: semanticheskiĭ analiz.A. I︠U︡ Antonovskiĭ & A. L. Nikiforov (eds.) - 2013 - Moskva: Institut filosofii RAN.
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  18. ha-Adam ṿe-ʻolamo: ha-sheʼifah le-ḥerut = Man and his world: the quest for freedom.Aaron Tomer - 2013 - Beʼer-Shevaʻ: [Aaron Tomer].
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  19. Maḥshavot le-ʻet lailah =.Haim Shapira - 2013 - Or Yehudah: Zemorah-Bitan.
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  20. The babelist theory of meaning: an inaugural lecture of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, delivered on 28th February, 2013.G. I. Nwaozuzu - 2013 - Nigeria: University of Nigeria, Senate Ceremonials Committee ;.
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  21. L'interrogazione del simbolo.Maria Cristina Bartolomei (ed.) - 2014 - Milano: Mimesis.
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  22. Der Sinn des Sinns: Versuch über das Göttliche.Volker Gerhardt - 2014 - München: C.H. Beck.
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  23. Voorbij het vanzelfsprekende: op safari in de wildernis van betekenisgeving.W. L. van Dinten - 2014 - Amsterdam: Prometheus/Bert Bakker.
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  24. Truth and truth bearers.Mark Richard - 2015 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    This book collects nine seminal essays by Mark Richard published between 1980 and 2014, alongside four new essays and an introduction that puts the essays in context. Each essay is an attempt, in one way or another, to understand the idea of a proposition. Part I discusses whether the objects of thought and assertion can change truth value over time. Part II develops and defends a relativist view of the objects of assertion and thought; it includes discussions of the nature (...)
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  25. Philosophy of the nest.I. -mun Pak - 2015 - London: Saffron Books.
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  26. Problema realʹnosti v sovremennom estestvoznanii.E. A. Mamchur (ed.) - 2015 - Moskva: "Kanon+".
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  27. Naturalism. Idling and sidling toward philosophical peace / Huw Price ; Is (determinate) meaning a naturalistic phenomenon? / Paul Boghossian ; Kripke's Wittgenstein.Paul Horwich - 2015 - In Steven Gross, Nicholas Tebben & Michael Williams (eds.), Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism. Oxford University Press.
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  28. Normativity. Pragmatism and the price of truth / Michael Patrick Lynch ; Pragmatism and the function of truth / Cheryl Misak ; Life is not a box-score : lived normativity, abstract evaluation, and the is/ought distinction.Mark Lance - 2015 - In Steven Gross, Nicholas Tebben & Michael Williams (eds.), Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism. Oxford University Press.
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  29. Expression and expressivism. What would an expressivist semantics be? / Mark Richard ; Hard cases for combining expressivism and deflationist truth : conditionals and epistemic modals / Mark Schroeder ; Expression : acts, products, and meaning / Dorit Bar-On ; Global expressivism and the truth in representation / Allan Gibbard ; The limits of expressivism.Anandi Hattiangadi - 2015 - In Steven Gross, Nicholas Tebben & Michael Williams (eds.), Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism. Oxford University Press.
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  30. Truth and reference. Deflationism, pragmatism, and metaphysics / Rebecca kukla and Eric Winsberg ; Does the expressive role of 'true' preclude deflationary Davidsonian semantics? / Steven Gross ; An inferential account of referential success / Alexis Burgess ; Representation and the modern correspondence theory of truth / Michale Glanzberg ; Deflationism, truth, and accuracy.Dean Pettit - 2015 - In Steven Gross, Nicholas Tebben & Michael Williams (eds.), Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism. Oxford University Press.
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  31. Introduction. Anti-representational semantics : four themes.Nicholas Tebben - 2015 - In Steven Gross, Nicholas Tebben & Michael Williams (eds.), Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism. Oxford University Press.
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  32. La construction du sens.Yves Bannel - 2015 - Paris: Éditions Télètes.
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  33. Conjoining Meanings: Semantics Without Truth Values.Paul M. Pietroski - 2018 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
    Paul M. Pietroski presents an ambitious new account of human languages as generative procedures that respect substantive constraints. He argues that meanings are neither concepts nor extensions, and sentences do not have truth conditions; meanings are composable instructions for how to access and assemble concepts of a special sort.
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  34. The Oxford Handbook of Meaning in Life.Iddo Landau (ed.) - 2022 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    This volume presents thirty-two essays on a wide array of topics in modern philosophical meaning in life research. The essays are organized into six parts. Part I, Understanding Meaning in Life, focuses on various ways of conceptualizing meaning in life. Among other issues, it discusses whether meaning in life should be understood objectively or subjectively, the relation between importance and meaningfulness, and whether meaningful lives should be understood narratively. Part II, Meaning in Life, Science, and Metaphysics, presents opposing views on (...)
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  35. Scenes, semiotics and the new real: exploring the value of originality and difference.Chris Brown - 2016 - New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Brown examines the types of scene that exist, along with related concepts such as authenticity and the 'really' real. It also explores the effectiveness of scenes in spreading new actions and ideas, as welll as their role in both facilitating 'difference' and introducing originality and newness in modern society. Finally, the book deals with the fragility of scenes, why they can often become subsumed by normality and how this might be prevented.
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  36. Mit jelent kérdezni?: a humántudományok és az értelem keresése.István Sümegi - 2016 - Szombathely: Savaria University Press.
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  37. Meaning and language.Satya Sundar Sethy - 2016 - New Delhi: DK Printworld.
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  38. God and the meanings of life: what God could and couldn't do to make our lives more meaningful.T. J. Mawson - 2016 - New York: Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
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  39. Sinn und Welt.Jürgen Lambrecht - 2016 - Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.
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  40. Zingeving in het Westen: traditie, strijdersethos en christendom.Peter Abspoel - 2016 - Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Vantilt.
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  41. A Source of Paradox: Response to Paul Horwich.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  42. Gricean Semantics and Reference: Responses to Anita Avramides, Stephen Neale, and Kent Bach.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  43. Vagueness and Indeterminacy: Responses to Dorothy Edgington, Hartry Field and Crispin Wright.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  44. De Re Subtleties: Response to Nathan Salmon.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  45. The Relativity Feature: Response to Ray Buchanan.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  46. De Re Belief Reports: Response to Gary Ostertag.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  47. Pleonastic Entities: Responses to Amie Thomasson, Thomas Hofweber, Ian Rumfitt, and Michael Smith.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  48. Schiffer on Russell's Theory and Referential Uses.Kent Bach - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  49. Abiding Intentions.Anita Avramides - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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  50. The Nature of Paradox.Paul Horwich - 2016 - In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things: Themes From the Work of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford University Press.
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1 — 50 / 10488