The thesis that content and/or meaning are normative has been a subject of intense discussion since the publication of Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Generally it is granted on all sides that certain mental states like judgments or beliefs and certain uses of language are semantically correct or incorrect. An immediate dividing line between views consists in how to think of semantic correctness. On the first and most widespread construal to say that a mental state or a use is incorrect is just to say that it results in a factual mistake. We might call this representational correctness. This is plausibly true of both mental states and some meaningful uses of language (predications, sayings, assertions). However, several philosophers have argued that there's also distinctively linguistic sense of correctness which follows from the nature of linguistic meaning itself. On this construal to say that a use is incorrect is to say that it results in a linguistic mistake or misuse. This is not supposed to be true of mental states, but of all meaningful uses of language (even uses of interrogatives, imperatives, 'Ouch!', 'Thank you!' etc.). Another dividing line, that between anti-normativists and normativists, consists in whether correctness in either sense entails normativity, in some sense. The anti-normativists deny this while the normativists affirm it. Earlier work on the precise sense of normativity involved was focused on whether semantic correctness is supposed to entail semantic musts or oughts or rather may's. The issue was partly thought to be important since normativity was taken to conflict with naturalism. Recently some philosophers have connected this debate to work in metanormative theory, arguing that we're dealing here with formal and not authoritative normativity, and hence claims to the effect that the putative must's or may's in play would conflict with naturalism are implausible. Note that if one accepts the distinction between representational and linguistic correctness then mixed stances become possible. For example, one could agree with anti-normativists that representational correctness doesn't entail normativity while insisting that linguistic correctness does, or vice versa.
|Key works||Wittgenstein famously suggested that meaningfulness is to be thought of in terms of rules in his Philosophical Remarks, and Philosophical Investigations. Similar suggestions were made in the inferentialist vein in Sellars 1950 and Sellars 1954 and later developed in Brandom 1994. Current discussion takes off in large part from Boghossian 1989 which suggested that representational correctness is normative. Anti-normativist views to the effect that it is not have been defended by Wikforss 2001, Boghossian 2003, Hattiangadi 2006, and Glüer & Wikforss 2009. Normativist defenses include Whiting 2007, Whiting 2009, and Wedgwood 2007. In contrast, there are also views which understand linguistic meaning in terms of rules of use and take it to be normative. For example, Stenius 1967 ties rules with semantic mood Searle 1969 and Alston 1999 tie them with speech acts. These are views which focus on linguistic correctness and take it to entail normativity of meaning. Davidsonian individualist criticisms of this perspective include Davidson 1984 Davidson 1986 Bilgrami 1993 Wikforss 2001. Defenses include Millar 2002, and Reiland forthcoming.|
|Introductions||Greenberg 2005, Glüer & Wikforss 2009|
- Kripkenstein on Meaning (242)
- Meaning Holism (261)
- Speaker Meaning and Linguistic Meaning (117)
- Aspects of Meaning, Misc (155)
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