40 (1):27-42 (2019
According to a well-established tradition in the philosophy of language, we can understand what makes an arbitrary sound, gesture, or marking into a meaningful linguistic expression only by appealing to mental states, such as beliefs and intentions. In this paper, I explore the contrasting possibility of understanding the meaningfulness of linguistic expressions just in terms of observable linguistic behavior. Specifically, I explore the view that a type of sound becomes a meaningful linguistic expression within a group in virtue of the production of that type of item becoming that group’s widespread, copied way of getting others to involve an object or relation in their activity. After discussing a preliminary version of the view, I develop it in response to some key concerns about whether it really does, as a matter of fact, eschew mental states, and about its adequacy as an account of linguistic meaning.