An impossibility result on semantic resemblance

Dialectica 62 (3):293-306 (2008)
Abstract
We show that a set of prima facie plausible assumptions on the relation of meaning resemblance – one of which is a compositionality postulate – is inconsistent. On this basis we argue that either there is no theoretically useful notion of semantic resemblance at all, or the traditional conception of the compositionality of meaning has to be adapted. In the former case, arguments put forward by Nelson Goodman and Paul Churchland in favor of the concept of meaning resemblance are defeated. In the other case, it must be possible to account for 'degrees of compositionality' or for other refinements of compositionality that are compatible with meaning resemblance.
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