David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (6):553-581 (2009)
Category mistakes are sentences such as ‘Colourless green ideas sleep furiously’ or ‘The theory of relativity is eating breakfast’. Such sentences are highly anomalous, and this has led a large number of linguists and philosophers to conclude that they are meaningless (call this ‘the meaninglessness view’). In this paper I argue that the meaninglessness view is incorrect and category mistakes are meaningful. I provide four arguments against the meaninglessness view: in Sect. 2, an argument concerning compositionality with respect to category mistakes; in Sect. 3 an argument concerning synonymy facts of category mistakes; in Sect. 4 concerning embeddings of category mistakes in propositional attitude ascriptions; and in Sect. 5 concerning the uses of category mistakes in metaphors. Having presented these arguments, in Sect. 6 I briefly discuss some of the positive motivations for accepting the meaninglessness view and argue that they are unconvincing. I conclude that the meaninglessness view ought to be rejected.
|Keywords||Category mistakes Selectional restrictions Selectional violations Compositionality Semantics Foundations of semantics Montague Grammar Type theoretic semantics Colorless green ideas sleep furiously Meaning Meaningfulness Meaninglessness Nonsense|
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References found in this work BETA
J. C. Beall (2003). Possibilities and Paradox: An Introduction to Modal and Many-Valued Logic. Oxford University Press.
Max Black (1962). Models and Metaphors. Ithaca, N.Y.,Cornell University Press.
Daniel R. Boisvert & Christopher M. Lubbers (2003). Frege's Commitment to an Infinite Hierarchy of Senses. Philosophical Papers 32 (1):31-64.
Elisabeth Camp (2005). Review: Josef Stern, Metaphor in Context. [REVIEW] Noûs 39 (4):715-731.
Citations of this work BETA
Ofra Magidor (2011). Arguments by Leibniz’s Law in Metaphysics. Philosophy Compass 6 (3):180-195.
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