On Knowing the Meaning; With a Coda on Swampman

Mind 119 (473):43-81 (2010)
Abstract
I give an analysis of how empirical terms do their work in communication and the gathering of knowledge that is fully externalist and that covers the full range of empirical terms. It rests on claims about ontology. A result is that armchair analysis fails as a tool for examining meanings of ‘basic’ empirical terms because their meanings are not determined by common methods or criteria of application passed from old to new users, by conventionally determined ‘intensions’. Nor do methods of application used by individual speakers constitute definitive reference-determining intensions for their idiolect terms or associated concepts. Conventional intensions of non-basic empirical terms ultimately rest on basic empirical concepts, so no empirical meaning is found merely ‘in the head’. I discuss the nature of lexical definition, why empirical meanings cannot ultimately be modelled as functions from possible worlds to extensions, and traps into which armchair analysis of meaning can lead us. A coda explains how ‘Swampman’ examples, as used against teleosemantic theories of content, illustrate such traps
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    References found in this work BETA
    Donald Davidson (1987). Knowing One's Own Mind. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.
    Michael T. Ghiselin (1981). Categories, Life, and Thinking. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (2):269.
    David L. Hull (1978). A Matter of Individuality. Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Ruth Garrett Millikan (2011). Loosing the Word–Concept Tie. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1):125-143.
    Ruth Garrett Millikan (2013). Troubles with Plantinga's Reading of Millikan. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (2):454-456.

    View all 6 citations

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