Open Texture and Schematicity as Arguments for Non-referential Semantics

In Klaus Petrus Sarah-Jane Conrad (ed.), Meaning, Context, and Methodology. Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 13-30 (2017)
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Abstract

Many of the terms of our language, such as “jar”, are open-textured in the sense that their applicability to novel objects is not entirely determined by their past usage. Many others, such as the verbs “use” and “have”, are schematic in the sense that they have only a very general meaning although on any particular occasion of use they denote some more particular relation. The phenomena of open texture and schematicity constitute a sharp challenge to referential semantics, which assumes that every non-logical term has a definite extension. A different, non-referential approach to formal semantics defines truth as relative to a context and defines contexts as built up from exclusively linguistic entities. For any given utterance of a sentence, there will be one of these contexts that pertains to it. In this framework, open texture and schematicity can be understood as consequences of the complex nature of the pertaining relation between contexts and utterances.

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Christopher Gauker
University of Salzburg

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