Inside and Outside Language: Stroud's Nonreductionism about Meaning

In Jason Bridges, Niko Kolodny & Wai-Hung Wong (eds.), The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding: Essays for Barry Stroud. Oxford University Press (2011)
I argue that Stroud's nonreductionism about meaning is insufficiently motivated. First, given that he rejects the assumption that grasp of an expression's meaning guides or instructs us in its use, he has no reason to accept Kripke's arguments against dispositionalism or related reductive views. Second, his argument that reductive views are impossible because they attempt to explain language “from outside” rests on an equivocation between two senses in which an explanation of language can be from outside language. I offer a partially reductive account of meaning which appeals both to speakers’ dispositions to produce and respond to utterances in naturalistically specifiable ways, and to the normative attitudes they adopt, in so doing, to their own behavior. This account is supported, I argue, by Stroud's early treatment of Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations and in particular of the agreement in primitive judgments or reactions which Wittgenstein takes to be required for linguistic communication.
Keywords Stroud  Kripke  Wittgenstein  Naturalism about meaning  Normativity of meaning  Meaning skepticism
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