A theory of meaning

Philosophical Studies 161 (1):97-107 (2012)
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A theory of word meaning developed jointly by Adrienne and Keith Lehrer is summarized, which accommodates the empirical facts of natural languages, especially the diversity of types of words. Reference characterizes the application of words to things, events, properties, etc. and sense the relationship among words and linguistic expressions. Although reference and sense are closely connected, neither can be reduced to the other. We use the metaphor of vectors to show how different, sometimes competing forces interact to provide an understanding of what a word in context means. Topics discussed include vagueness, indeterminacy, the role of experts, possible worlds, pragmatic influences, semantic change, semantic networks, fields, and entailments. A formal theory for understanding the relationship of idiolects, dialects, and communal languages is proposed to account for the dynamic interaction of individuals and communities which occurs continuously



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Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
The meaning of 'meaning'.Hillary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.

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