Disputatio 8 (9) (2019)

Paul Horwich
New York University
This paper questions the idea that Wittgenstein’s account of meaning as use requires an intrinsically normative understanding of this notion, and suggests instead that Wittgenstein is better understood as promoting a naturalistic view of meaning that undertakes an explanation based on non–semantic and non–normative facts of word–usage. It discusses the relevant positions of Kripke, Brandom and McDowell, all of whom are found to be united by the attempt to attribute to Wittgenstein a normative understanding of language that is not convincing. While language does exhibit normative properties that cannot be naturalized, the understanding speakers have of their own words is “a prima facie plausible candidate for naturalistic analysis.”
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