Semantic Particularism and Linguistic Competence

Logique et Analyse 52 (208):343-361 (2009)
Abstract
In this paper I examine a contemporary debate about the general notion of linguistic rules and the place of context in determining meaning, which has arisen in the wake of a challenge that the conceptual framework of moral particularism has brought to the table. My aim is to show that particularism in the theory of meaning yields an attractive model of linguistic competence that stands as a genuine alternative to other use-oriented but still generalist accounts that allow room for context-sensitivity in deciding how the linguistic rules would apply in concrete cases. I argue that the ideas developed in relation to particularism in meta-ethics illuminate a difficulty with the modest generalist view, one that can be resolved by adopting semantic particularism instead.
Keywords particularism  normativity  linguistic competence  Cavell  Wittgenstein  meaning  rules  default meanings  generalism  conventionalism
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