Pragmatism and Verbal Behaviourism. Mead’s and Sellars’ Theories of Meaning and Introspection

Contemporary Pragmatism 17 (4):243-267 (2020)

Abstract

The article highlights George Herbert Mead’s and Wilfrid Sellars’ reliance on a behaviourally-grounded conception of meaning as strictly related to the possibility of distinguishing mental from non-mental phenomena as both related to the semantic dimension. Mead’s position is in fact akin to Wilfrid Sellars’ argument that the concepts of ‘inner events’ are essentially inter-subjective. Thoughts are displayed as consisting of related linguistic acts linked inferentially through intra-linguistic moves that respond to a particular ‘language practice’ governed by norms. Introspection is an ‘inner conversation’, namely an ‘inner’ speaking analogous to linguistic activity that does not involve actual equivalents of the words in the mind.

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