This is a short response piece to Jeremy Schwartz's "Saying 'Thank You' and Meaning It", published in Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 2020, 98, pp. 718-731. -/- Schwartz argues against the received view that 'Thank You! is for expressing gratitude, claiming instead that it is for expressing one's judgment that gratitude is appropriate or fitting. I argue against the judgment view while defending the received one. -/- I mainly consider the objection that the judgment view is implausible since it makes ‘Thank (...) you!’ semantically indistinguishable from the declarative sentence ‘Gratitude is appropriate to you’ and show that Schwartz’s attempt to sidestep it relies on misunderstanding Kaplan's view of what it is for a sentence to be an expressive vs. a declarative. (shrink)
Deflationists about truth hold that the function of the truth predicate is to enable us to make certain assertions we could not otherwise make. Pragmatists claim that the utility of negation lies in its role in registering incompatibility. The pragmatist insight about negation has been successfully incorporated into bilateral theories of content, which take the meaning of negation to be inferentially explained in terms of the speech act of rejection. We implement the deflationist insight in a bilateral theory by taking (...) the meaning of the truth predicate to be explained by its inferential relation to assertion. We combine this account of the meaning of the truth predicate with a new diagnosis of the Liar Paradox: its derivation requires the truth rules to preserve evidence, but these rules only preserve commitment. The result is a novel inferential deflationist theory of truth, which solves the Liar Paradox in a principled manner. We end by showing that our theory and simple extensions thereof have the resources to axiomatize the internal logic of several supervaluational hierarchies, including Cantini’s. This solves open problems of Halbach (2011) and Horsten (2011). (shrink)
What are rules? In this paper I develop a view of regulative rules which takes them to be a distinctive normative kind occupying a middle ground between orders and normative truths. The paradigmatic cases of regulative rules that I’m interested in are social rules like rules of etiquette and legal rules like traffic rules. On the view I’ll propose, a rule is a general normative content that is in force due to human activity: enactment by an authority or acceptance by (...) a community. Rules are unlike orders in being not necessarily communicative, not an expression’s of the giver’s will, not evaluable for sincerity, and in that they have propositional content. And they’re unlike normative truths in that they’re themselves not even truth-evaluable (though their contents are). This is because rules qua things that are in force are not like constatives which have a mind to world direction of fit, but more like performatives. Furthermore, they differ from normative truths in that their normativity is isolated from their background justification and is therefore not dependent on contributory notions like reasons coming together in a weighing explanation. As such, they occupy a middle ground between orders and normative truths, much like in H. L. A. Hart’s opinion law occupies a middle ground between “coercion” and “morality” (Hart 1961/1994). I also illustrate the virtues of this understanding of rules by showing how proper appreciation of how they differ from normative truths helps us defuse a common objection to Hart’s practice theory of rules. (shrink)
‘Rule-following’ is a name for a cluster of phenomena where we seem both guided and “normatively” constrained by something general in performing particular actions. Understanding the phenomenon is important because of its connection to meaning, representation, and content. This article gives an overview of the philosophical discussion of rule-following with emphasis on Kripke’s skeptical paradox and recent work on possible solutions. Part I of this two-part contribution is devoted to the basic issues from Wittgenstein to Kripke. Part II will be (...) about recent answers to the skeptical paradox and Boghossian’s and Wright’s new puzzles. (shrink)
Ever since the publication of Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, there’s been a raging debate in philosophy of language over whether meaning and thought are, in some sense, normative. Most participants in the normativity wars seem to agree that some uses of meaningful expressions are semantically correct while disagreeing over whether this entails anything normative. But what is it to say that a use of an expression is semantically correct? On the so-called orthodox construal, it is to say (...) that it doesn’t result in a factual mistake, that is, in saying or thinking something false. On an alternative construal it is instead to say that it doesn’t result in a distinctively linguistic mistake, that is, in misusing the expression. It is natural to think that these two construals of semantic correctness are simply about different things and not in competition with each other. However, this is not the common view. Instead, several philosophers who subscribe to the orthodox construal have argued that the alternative construal of correctness as use in accordance with meaning doesn’t make any sense, partly because there are no clear cases of linguistic mistakes (Whiting 2016, Wikforss 2001). In this paper I develop and defend the idea that there’s a distinctively linguistic notion of correctness as use in accordance with meaning and argue that there are clear cases of linguistic mistakes. (shrink)
Stephen Read presented harmonious inference rules for identity in classical predicate logic. I demonstrate here how this approach can be generalised to a setting where predicate logic has been extended with epistemic modals. In such a setting, identity has two uses. A rigid one, where the identity of two referents is preserved under epistemic possibility, and a non-rigid one where two identical referents may differ under epistemic modality. I give rules for both uses. Formally, I extend Quantified Epistemic Multilateral Logic (...) with two identity signs. I argue that a uniform meaning for identity tout court can be given by adopting Maria Aloni’s account of reference using conceptual covers. We obtain a harmonious set of rules for identity that is sound and complete for Aloni’s model theory. (shrink)
According to an influential reading of his later philosophy, Wittgenstein thinks that nonsense can result from combining expressions in ways prohibited by the rules to which their use is subject. According to another influential reading, the later Wittgenstein thinks that nonsense only ever results from privation—that is, from a failure to assign a meaning to one or more of the relevant expressions. This chapter challenges Glock’s defence of the view that the later Wittgenstein allows for combinatorial nonsense. In doing so, (...) it defends a version of the privation view. According to it, Wittgenstein thinks that nonsense results, not so much from a failure to assign a meaning to an expression, as a failure to use an expression in a way that has a point or purpose. As the chapter shows, this interpretation is consistent with prominent themes in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, such as that meaning and explanation are coordinate notions, that for a word to have a meaning is for there to be a rule-governed practice of using it, that the rules of the practice are arbitrary, and that they determine the bounds of sense. (shrink)
In this paper I present how the normative inferentialist can make the distinction between sentence meaning and content of the utterance. The inferentialist can understand sentence meaning as a role conferred to that sentence by the rules governing inferential transitions and content of the utterance as just a part of sentence meaning. I attempt to show how such a framework can account for prominent scenarios presented by contextualists as a challenge to semantic minimalism/literalism. I argue that inferentialism can address contextualist (...) challenges in a simple and effective manner by understanding sentence meaning as broad, but invariant. (shrink)
In Philosophical Investigations §§185–201, Wittgenstein addresses an oscillation in our thinking about the nature of rules. He seems to introduce a problem—how do we follow rules?—, and a “paradox” in which it is rooted, in order to find a solution to them; only to then call the whole puzzle a “misunderstanding” after all. My contention is that this apparent friction can best be understood and resolved when we view it in light of Wittgenstein’s engagement with limits and limitations, and how (...) easy it is to confuse one with the other when thinking about human thought and language. This central bit of the frequently discussed “rule-following considerations,” then, is concerned not simply with matters of semantics, convention, or community, but rather with the question of a proper philosophical method for thinking about our life with language in general. When traced out, these few remarks elucidate a bifurcation in interpreting one of the central methodological themes in Wittgenstein. (shrink)
In his 1975 paper “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’”, Hilary Putnam famously argued for semantic externalism. Little attention has been paid, however, to the fact that already in 1973, Putnam had presented the idea of the linguistic division of labor and the Twin Earth thought experiment in his comment on Wilfrid Sellars’s “Meaning as Functional Classification” at a conference, and Sellars had replied to Putnam from a broadly inferentialist perspective. The first half of this paper aims to trace the development of (...) Putnam’s semantic externalism, situate his debate with Sellars in it, and reconstruct the two arguments he presented against Sellars. The second half of this paper aims to reconstruct how Sellars replied to Putnam. I argue that Sellars not only accepts the social character of language but also suggests how inferentialists can accommodate the contribution of the world. Sellars’s key idea is that substance terms have a “promissory note aspect” which is to be cashed out in a successor conceptual framework. I reconstruct Sellars’s position as ideal successor externalism, and compare it with temporal externalism. (shrink)
A speaker's use of a declarative sentence in a context has two effects: it expresses a proposition and represents the speaker as knowing that proposition. This essay is about how to explain the second effect. The standard explanation is act-based. A speaker is represented as knowing because their use of the declarative in a context tokens the act-type of assertion and assertions represent knowledge in what's asserted. I propose a semantic explanation on which declaratives covertly host a "know"-parenthetical. A speaker (...) is thereby represented as knowing the proposition expressed because that is the semantic contribution of the parenthetical. I call this view parentheticalism and defend that it better explains knowledge representation than alternatives. As a consequence of outperforming assertoric explanations, parentheticalism opens the door to eliminating the act-type of assertion from linguistic theorizing. (shrink)
In this paper I provide a new account of linguistic presuppositions, on which they are ancillary speech acts defined by constitutive norms. After providing an initial intuitive characterization of the phenomenon, I present a normative speech act account of presupposition in parallel with Williamson’s analogous account of assertion. I explain how it deals well with the problem of informative presuppositions, and how it relates to accounts for the Triggering and Projection Problems for presuppositions. I conclude with a brief discussion of (...) the consequences of the proposal for the adequacy of Williamson’s account of assertion. (shrink)
Although the later Wittgenstein appears as one of the most influential figures in Davidson’s later works on meaning, it is not, for the most part, clear how Davidson interprets and employs Wittgenstein’s ideas. In this paper, I will argue that Davidson’s later works on meaning can be seen as mainly a manifestation of his attempt to accommodate the later Wittgenstein’s basic ideas about meaning and understanding, especially the requirement of drawing the seems right/is right distinction and the way this requirement (...) must be met. These ideas, however, are interpreted by Davidson in his own way. I will then argue that Davidson even attempts to respect Wittgenstein’s quietism, provided that we understand this view in the way Davidson does. Having argued for that, I will finally investigate whether, for Davidson at least, his more theoretical and supposedly explanatory projects, such as that of constructing a formal theory of meaning and his use of the notion of triangulation, are in conflict with this Wittgensteinian quietist view. (shrink)
The reclamation of slurs raises a host of important questions. Some are linguistic: What are the linguistic conventions governing the slur post-reclamation and how are they related to the conventions governing it pre-reclamation? What mechanisms engender the shift? Others bend toward the social: Why do a slur’s targets have a special privilege in initiating its reclamation? Is there a systematic explanation why prohibitions on out-group use of reclaimed slurs vary from slur to slur? And how does reclamation contribute to shaping (...) social identities and reversing oppressive social norms and stigma? Most analyses of slur reclamation advance a single model to answer these questions. The author argues that there are different varieties of reclamation. Two predominate, what she calls pride reclamation and insular reclamation. While many features unite pride and insular reclamation, they differ with respect to the purpose of the reclamatory act, the linguistic mechanisms reclaimers employ to execute the linguistic change, and the social and grammatical roles of the reclaimed slur. By distinguishing these two types of reclamation and offering a fine-grained characterization of their properties, the author argues that we gain deeper insight into the reasons why slurs may in principle only be ignited by the target group and why pride- but not insular-reclaimed slurs become available for use by out-group members. (shrink)
The dissertation provides an analysis and elaboration of Michael Dummett's proof-theoretic notions of validity. Dummett's notions of validity are contrasted with standard proof-theoretic notions and formally evaluated with respect to their adequacy to propositional intuitionistic logic.
I show that propositional intuitionistic logic is complete with respect to an adaptation of Dummett’s pragmatist justification procedure. In particular, given a pragmatist justification of an argument, I show how to obtain a natural deduction derivation of the conclusion of the argument from, at most, the same assumptions.
Wittgenstein’s Investigations proposed an egalitarian view about language games, emphasizing their plurality (“language has no downtown”). Uses of words depend on the game one is playing, and may change when playing another. Furthermore, there is no privileged game dictating the rules for the others: games are as many as purposes. This view is pluralist and egalitarian, but it says little about the connection between meaning and use, and about how a set of rules is responsible for them in practice. Brandom’s (...) Making It Explicit attempted a straightforward answer to these questions, by developing Wittgensteinian insights: the primacy of social practice over meanings; the idea that meaning is use; the idea of rule–following to understand participation in social practices. Nonetheless, Brandom defended a non–Wittgensteinian conception of discursive practice: language has a “downtown”, the game of “giving and asking for reasons”. This is the idea of a normative structure of language, consisting of advancing claims and drawing inferences. By means of assertions, speakers undertake “commitments” that can be challenged/defended in terms of reasons (those successfully justified can gain “entitlement”). This game is not one among many: it is indispensable to the very idea of discursive practice. In this paper, my aim will be that of exploring the main motivations and implications of both perspectives. (shrink)
In this dissertation, I aim to develop and defend a novel, pragmatist approach to foundational questions about meaning, especially the meaning of deontic moral vocabulary. Drawing from expressivists and inferentialists, I argue that meaning is best explained by the various kinds of norms that govern the use of a vocabulary. Along with inferential norms, I argue we must extend our account to discursive norms that govern normative statuses required to felicitously utter certain speech-acts—norms of authority—and the transitions in normative statuses (...) affected by speech-acts—pragmatic norms. These structural discursive norms differentiate discursive practices and account for distinctive features such as objectivity and motivational import that some have and others lack. The structure exhibited by a practice is then explained in terms of its utility, making it possible to see how different discursive practices are answerable to the different needs and purposes of the discursive beings who use them. I call the resulting explanatory framework a pragmatic analysis of linguistic meaning (PALM). -/- Turning my attention to moral “ought,” I argue that the structural discursive norms of moral discourse differentiate it from other objective discourses, like empirical discourse, on the one hand, and from other normative discourses, like prudential discourse, on the other. Drawing on work in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, I complete the PALM with an account of moral discourse a meta-normative practice with a metacoordinative function. Its utility for the discursive beings who use it lies in its enabling them to remedy certain tensions and instabilities that arise in their other coordinative, normative practices in a way that minimizes the risk of domination by alpha-type freeriders, the fracturing of social groups, and individual defection from cooperative endeavors. -/- In the final two chapters, I leverage the account to defend a pragmatist-friendly notion of objectivity in terms of a structure of distributed epistemic authority according to which no claim within a practice is ultimately authoritative or immune from challenge and to reconcile this sense of objectivity with a persistent pressure toward a kind of relativism that restricts the standing to make moral claims to members of the relevant communities. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that games like chess, languages like English, and speech acts like assertion are constituted by rules. Lots of others disagree. To argue over this productively, it would be first useful to know what it would be for these things to be rule-constituted. Searle famously claimed in Speech Acts that rules constitute things in the sense that they make possible the performance of actions related to those things (Searle 1969). On this view, rules constitute games, languages, and speech (...) acts in the sense that they make possible playing them, speaking them and performing them. This raises the question what it is to perform rule-constituted actions (e. g. play, speak, assert) and the question what makes constitutive rules distinctive such that only they make possible the performance of new actions (e. g. playing). In this paper I will criticize Searle’s answers to these questions. However, my main aim is to develop a better view, explain how it works in the case of each of games, language, and assertion and illustrate its appeal by showing how it enables rule-based views of these things to respond to various objections. (shrink)
Die Idee, daß die Bedeutung sprachlicher Ausdrücke im Rückgriff auf ihren Gebrauch in der Sprache zu klären ist, ist seit Wittgenstein gängig. Das Buch verteidigt diesen Grundgedanken durch die Ausarbeitung einer prozeduralistischen Bedeutungstheorie, die zwei theoretische Strömungen zusammenführt: eine inferentialistische Semantik und eine konventionalistische Sprechakttheorie. Das Buch bietet darüber hinaus eine gründliche Diskussion realistischer und bescheidener Bedeutungstheorien sowie alternativer gebrauchstheoretischer Ansätze.
In this paper, I assess the relative merits of two semantic frameworks for slurring terms. Each aims to distinguish slurs from their neutral counterparts via their semantics. On one, recently developed by Kent Bach, that which differentiates the slurring term from its neutral counterpart is encoded as a ‘loaded’ descriptive content. Whereas the neutral counterpart ‘NC’ references a group, the slur has as its content “NC, and therefore contemptible”. On the other, a version of hybrid expressivism, the semantically encoded aspect (...) of a slurring term that distinguishes it from its neutral counterpart is, rather, expressed. A speaker who uses the slurring term references the group referenced by the neutral counterpart and, in addition, expresses her contempt for the target. On this view, while the speaker’s attitude may be evaluated for appropriateness, the expressivist component of slurring terms is truth-conditionally irrelevant. The reference to the group, and only the reference to the group, contributes to truth conditions. I’ll argue that hybrid expressivism offers a more parsimonious analysis of slurs’ projective behavior than loaded descriptivism and that its truth conditional semantics is not inferior to the possible accounts available for loaded descriptivism. I also meet Bach’s important objection that hybrid expressivism cannot account for uses of slurring terms in indirect quotation and attitude attributions. (shrink)
This book seeks to bring together the pragmatic theory of 'meaning as use' with the traditional semantic approach that considers meaning in terms of truth conditions. Daniel Gutzmann's new approach captures the entire meaning of complex expressions and overcomes the empirical gaps and conceptual problems associated with previous analyses.
Stefano Predelli explores the relationships between semantic notions of meaning and truth. He develops a 'Theory of Bias' in order to approach notorious semantic problems, offers a solution to Quine's 'Giorgione' puzzle and a new version of the demonstrative theory quotation, and defends a bare-boned approach to demonstratives and demonstrations.
The paper discusses four main views on the relation between language and reasons. Two of them contend that there is no significant relation, on different bases; a third contends that linguistic features can only be clarified by relating them to motivating reasons, and the fourth makes a similar claim but with respect to normative reasons instead. These approaches assume contrasting views on the nature of language. The first is a Platonist view on which the languages are abstract entities whose properties (...) are independent of the psychology of rational beings. The second, promoted by Chomsky’s very successful research programs, sees languages as a feature of the nonconscious deep psychology of human beings, a genetically determined subpersonal part of the mind/brain. The third has two different guises: the Davidsonian interpretationist perspective, and Gricean proposals. The fourth holds that languages constitute speech-act potentials, on the assumption that speech-acts provide speakers with normative reasons. (shrink)
Descriptive semantic theories purport to characterize the meanings of the expressions of languages in whatever complexity they might have. Foundational semantics purports to identify the kind of considerations relevant to establish that a given descriptive semantics accurately characterizes the language used by a given individual or community. Foundational Semantics I presents three contrasting approaches to the foundational matters, and the main considerations relevant to appraise their merits. These approaches contend that we should look at the contents of speakers’ intuitions; at (...) the deep psychology of users and its evolutionary history, as revealed by our best empirical theories; or at the personal‐level rational psychology of those subjects. Foundational Semantics II examines a fourth view, according to which we should look instead at norms enforced among speakers. The two papers aim to determine in addition the extent to which the approaches are really rival, or rather complementary. (shrink)
Linguistic meaning has an essential normative dimension that prima facie cannot be reduced to descriptive, non-normative, terms. Taking this point for granted, this paper however aims at proposing a naturalist view of semantics - inspired by Wilfrid Sellars' original works - focused on the way the constitutive normative aspects of meaning might be properly explained and accounted for, rather than eliminated.
The aim of this paper is to motivate and defend a conventional approach to assertion and other illocutionary acts. Such an approach takes assertions, questions and orders to be moves within an essentially rule-governed activity similar to a game. The most controversial aspect of a conventional account of assertion is that according to it, for classifying an utterance as an assertion, question or command, “it is irrelevant what intentions the person speaking may have had” (Dummett 1973, p. 302). I understand (...) this to mean that it is irrelevant for the issue of whether an utterance is an assertion whether the utterer has certain communicative intentions, such as the intention to utter something true, the intention to get one’s audience to believe (that one believes) what one has asserted etc. Just as one can commit a foul in football without meaning to do so, one can make an assertion, issue a command or ask a question without meaning to do so. The rules of football specify that a certain form of conduct (tackling an opponent in a certain way), carried out under certain general conditions (being a member of a team engaged in a game of football) counts as committing a foul. Similarly, I claim, the rules of language specify that a certain form of conduct (uttering an assertoric sentence), carried out under certain general conditions (being a member of a speech community engaged in a conversation) counts as making an assertion. (shrink)
Two opposing tendencies in the philosophy of language go by the names of ‘referentialism’ and ‘inferentialism’ respectively. In the crudest version of the contrast, the referentialist account of meaning gives centre stage to the referential semantics for a language, which is then used to explain the inference rules for the language, perhaps as those which preserve truth on that semantics (since a referential semantics for a language determines the truth-conditions of its sentences). By contrast, the inferentialist account of meaning gives (...) centre stage to the inference rules for the language, which are then used to explain its referential semantics, perhaps as the semantics on which the rules preserve truth. On pain of circularity, we cannot combine both directions of explanation. (shrink)
Die Arbeit untersucht, in welcher Weise Regeln die Bedeutung von Sätzen bestimmen sowie eine handlungsanleitende Kraft entfalten können. Auf der Basis einer Analyse der Rede von regulativen und konstitutiven Regeln wird gezeigt, dass semantische Regeln als bedingte Erlaubnisse zu rekonstruieren sind, die es ermöglichen, die Bedeutung von Ausdrücken zirkelfrei zu bestimmen. Derartige Regeln stellen unverzichtbare Prämissen in praktischen Syllogismen dar, deren Konklusion den Vollzug eines Sprechaktes gebietet.
This book revives the study of conventional implicatures in natural language semantics. H. Paul Grice first defined the concept. Since then his definition has seen much use and many redefinitions, but it has never enjoyed a stable place in linguistic theory. Christopher Potts returns to the original and uses it as a key into two presently under-studied areas of natural language: supplements and expressives. The account of both depends on a theory in which sentence meanings can be multidimensional. The theory (...) is logically and intuitively compositional, and it minimally extends a familiar kind of intensional logic, thereby providing an adaptable, highly useful tool for semantic analysis. The result is a linguistic theory that is accessible not only to linguists of all stripes, but also philosophers of language, logicians, and computer scientists who have linguistic applications in mind. (shrink)
William P. Alston. difference in the scope of the rule reflects the fact that I-rules exist for the sake of making communication possible. Whereas their cousins are enacted and enforced for other reasons. We could distinguish I-rules just by this ...
Can there be rules of language which serve both to determine meaning and to guide speakers in ordinary linguistic usage, i.e., in the production of speech acts? We argue that the answer is no. We take the guiding function of rules to be the function of serving as reasons for actions, and the question of guidance is then considered within the framework of practical reasoning. It turns out that those rules that can serve as reasons for linguistic utterances cannot be (...) considered as normative or meaning determining. Acceptance of such a rule is simply equivalent to a belief about meaning, and does not even presuppose that meaning is determined by rules. Rules that can determine meaning, on the other hand, i.e., rules that can be regarded as constitutive of meaning, are not capable of guiding speakers in the ordinary performance of speech acts. (shrink)
1. It seems plausible to say that a language is a system of expressions the use of which is subject to certain rules. It would seem, thus, that learning to use a language is learning to obey the rules for the use of its expressions. However, taken as it stands, this thesis is subject to an obvious and devastating refutation. After formulating this refutation, I shall turn to the constructive task of attempting to restate the thesis in a way which (...) avoids it. In doing so, I shall draw certain distinctions the theoretical elaboration of which will, I believe, yield new insight into the psychology of language and of what might be called “norm conforming behavior” generally. The present paper contains an initial attempt along these lines. (shrink)
We can think of ordinary truth-conditional semantics as giving us constraints on cognitive states. But constraints on cognitive states can be more complicated than simply believing a proposition. And we communicate more complicated constraints on cognitive states. We also communicate constraints that seem to bear on affective and conative states.