Rules of Meaning and Practical Reasoning

Synthese 117 (2):207 - 227 (1998)
Can there be rules of language which serve both to determine meaning and to guide speakers in ordinary linguistic usage, i.e., in the production of speech acts? We argue that the answer is no. We take the guiding function of rules to be the function of serving as reasons for actions, and the question of guidance is then considered within the framework of practical reasoning. It turns out that those rules that can serve as reasons for linguistic utterances cannot be considered as normative or meaning determining. Acceptance of such a rule is simply equivalent to a belief about meaning, and does not even presuppose that meaning is determined by rules. Rules that can determine meaning, on the other hand, i.e., rules that can be regarded as constitutive of meaning, are not capable of guiding speakers in the ordinary performance of speech acts
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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DOI 10.2307/20118106
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