The Normativity of Meaning

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 51:57-73 (2002)
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Abstract

In a discussion of rule-following inspired by Wittgenstein, Kripke asks us to consider the relation which holds between meaning plus by ‘+’ and answering questions like, ‘What is the sum of 68 and 57?’. A dispositional theory has it that if you mean plus by ‘+’ then you will probably answer, ‘125’. That is because, according to such a theory, to mean plus by ‘+’is, roughly speaking, to be disposed, by and large, and among other things, to answer such questions with the correct sum. Kripke wants to emphasize, by contrast, that if you mean plus by ‘+’ then, faced with the question, ‘What is 68 + 57?’ yououghtto answer, ‘125’. One could sum up the assumption about meaning which appears to underpin this criticism of dispositional theories in terms of the slogan that meaning is normative. Allan Gibbard gives us a way of reading that slogan which is suggested by Kripke's brief remarks:The crux of the slogan that meaning is normative … might be another slogan: thatmeansimpliesought. To use roughly Kripke's example, from statements saying what I mean by the plus sign and other arithmetic terms and constructions, it will follow that Ioughtto answer ‘7’ when asked ‘What's 5 + 2?’.

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Alan Millar
University of Stirling

References found in this work

Wittgenstein on following a rule.John McDowell - 1984 - Synthese 58 (March):325-364.
Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.Paul Horwich - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (1):163-171.
Meaning and normativity.Allan Gibbard - 1994 - Philosophical Issues 5:95-115.
A guide to naturalizing semantics.Barry M. Loewer - 1997 - In C. Wright & Bob Hale (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Blackwell: Oxford. pp. 108-126.

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