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Antipositivist Arguments from Legal Thought and Talk: The Metalinguistic Response

In Graham Hubbs & Douglas Lind (eds.), Pragmatism, Law, and Language. Routledge. pp. 56-75 (2014)

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  1. Vagueness as Indecision.J. Robert G. Williams - 2016 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 90 (1):285-309.
    This essay explores the thesis that for vague predicates, uncertainty over whether a borderline instance x of red/large/tall/good is to be understood as practical uncertainty over whether to treat x as red/large/tall/good. Expressivist and quasi-realist treatments of vague predicates due to John MacFarlane and Daniel Elstein provide the stalking-horse. It examines the notion of treating/counting a thing as F , and links a central question about our attitudes to vague predications to normative evaluation of plans to treat a thing as (...)
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  • Metalinguistic Value Disagreement.Erich Rast - 2017 - Studia Semiotyczne 31 (2):139-159.
    In a series of publications Burgess, Plunkett and Sundell have developed a metalinguistic negotiation view that they call ‘Conceptual Ethics.’ I argue that their position adequately captures our intuition that some cases of value disputes are metalinguistic, but that they reverse the direction of justification when they state that speakers ‘negotiate’ the best use of a term or concept on the basis of its prior social role. Borrowing ideas from Putnam, I instead suggest distinguishing two meanings of general terms and (...)
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  • Value Disagreement and Two Aspects of Meaning.Erich Rast - 2017 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 17 (51):399-430.
    The problem of value disagreement and contextualist, relativist and metalinguistic attempts of solving it are laid out. Although the metalinguistic account seems to be on the right track, it is argued that it does not sufficiently explain why and how disagreements about the meaning of evaluative terms are based on and can be decided by appeal to existing social practices. As a remedy, it is argued that original suggestions from Putnam's 'The Meaning of "Meaning"' ought to be taken seriously. The (...)
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  • Which Concepts Should We Use?: Metalinguistic Negotiations and The Methodology of Philosophy.David Plunkett - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):828-874.
    This paper is about philosophical disputes where the literal content of what speakers communicate concerns such object-level issues as ground, supervenience, or real definition. It is tempting to think that such disputes straightforwardly express disagreements about these topics. In contrast to this, I suggest that, in many such cases, the disagreement that is expressed is actually one about which concepts should be employed. I make this case as follows. First, I look at non-philosophical, everyday disputes where a speaker employs a (...)
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  • Dworkin's Interpretivism and the Pragmatics of Legal Disputes.David Plunkett & Timothy Sundell - 2013 - Legal Theory 19 (3):242-281.
    One of Ronald Dworkin's most distinctive claims in legal philosophy is that law is an interpretative concept, a special kind of concept whose correct application depends neither on fixed criteria nor on an instance-identifying decision procedure but rather on the normative or evaluative facts that best justify the total set of practices in which that concept is used. The main argument that Dworkin gives for interpretivism about some conceptis a disagreement-based argument. We argue here that Dworkin's disagreement-based argument relies on (...)
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  • Quasi-Expressivism About Statements of Law: A Hartian Theory.Stephen Finlay & David Plunkett - 2018 - In John Gardner, Leslie Green & Brian Leiter (eds.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law, vol. 3. Oxford University Press. pp. 49-86.
    Speech and thought about what the law is commonly function in practical ways, to guide or assess behavior. These functions have often been seen as problematic for legal positivism in the tradition of H.L.A. Hart. One recent response is to advance an expressivist analysis of legal statements (Toh), which faces its own, familiar problems. This paper advances a rival, positivist-friendly account of legal statements which we call “quasi-expressivist”, explicitly modeled after Finlay’s metaethical theory of moral statements. This consists in a (...)
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  • Metaphysical Disputes and Metalinguistic Negotiation.Amie L. Thomasson - 2017 - Analytic Philosophy 58 (1):1-28.
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  • How to Have a Metalinguistic Dispute.Poppy Mankowitz - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5603-5622.
    There has been recent interest in the idea that speakers who appear to be having a verbal dispute may in fact be engaged in a metalinguistic negotiation: they are communicating information about how they believe an expression should be used. For example, individuals involved in a dispute about whether a racehorse is an athlete might be communicating their diverging views about how ‘athlete’ should be used. While many have argued that metalinguistic negotiation is a pervasive feature of philosophical and everyday (...)
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  • Must We Measure What We Mean?Nat Hansen - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (8):785-815.
    This paper excavates a debate concerning the claims of ordinary language philosophers that took place during the middle of the last century. The debate centers on the status of statements about ‘what we say’. On one side of the debate, critics of ordinary language philosophy argued that statements about ‘what we say’ should be evaluated as empirical observations about how people do in fact speak, on a par with claims made in the language sciences. By that standard, ordinary language philosophers (...)
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  • Tolerance, Flexibility and the Application of Kind Terms.Genoveva Martí & Lorena Ramírez-Ludeña - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 12):1-14.
    We explore two ways of distinguishing the semantic operation of kind terms. First, we focus on a distinction between terms with a flexible versus terms with an inflexible semantics. Flexibility depends on whether some changes in the domain of application are taken to be possible while being consistent with past usage and what is intuitively the same meaning. On the other hand we discuss terms whose mode of operation is tolerant, in that the cohabitation in the speakers’ community of more (...)
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  • On Whales and Fish. Two Models of Interpretation.Genoveva Martí & Lorena Ramírez-Ludeña - 2019 - Jurisprudence 11 (1):63-75.
    We discuss the 1818 case in which the jury sided with inspector J. Maurice, who had demanded payment for inspecting casks of whale oil. The verdict is arguably incorrect: as several experts argued,...
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  • Expressions in Focus.Poppy Mankowitz - 2020 - Semantics and Pragmatics 13 (13).
    It is commonly claimed that, when a constituent is the focus of an occurrence of a sentence, certain alternatives to that constituent are relevant to our understanding of the sentence. Normally these are alternatives to the denotation of the focused constituent. However, Krifka (2007) briefly discusses the notion of expression focus, where the alternatives are linguistic items. Yet an adequate account of expression focus has not been given within the literature. This is despite the fact that it holds the potential (...)
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  • Negotiating the Meaning of “Law”: The Metalinguistic Dimension of the Dispute Over Legal Positivism.David Plunkett - 2016 - Legal Theory 22 (3-4):205-275.
    One of the central debates in legal philosophy is the debate over legal positivism. Roughly, positivists say that law is ultimately grounded in social facts alone, whereas antipositivists say it is ultimately grounded in both social facts and moral facts. In this paper, I argue that philosophers involved in the dispute over legal positivism sometimes employ distinct concepts when they use the term “law” and pick out different things in the world using these concepts. Because of this, what positivists say (...)
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