Meaning

Edited by Steven Gross (Johns Hopkins University)
About this topic
Summary

Words and phrases have meaning. But what are meanings? Maybe they are the objects and properties that our words are about. But then ‘Mark Twain’ and ‘Samuel Clemens’ would have the same meaning, even though one and the same person can affirm the sentence ‘Mark Twain was a great writer’ but reject the sentence ‘Samuel Clemens was a great writer.’ And what makes it the case that some squiggles or sounds are meaningful? Perhaps it’s because of the mental states of language users, but then in virtue of what do those states have their meaning or content? Might the explanation run in the other direction, so that our mental states have content only because we are language users? Also, can our grasp of what words mean explain our basic logical and mathematical knowledge and otherwise underwrite a compelling conception of the a priori? Perhaps it’s because we know what ‘and’ means that we know that ‘A and B’ is true just in case ‘A’ is true and ‘B’ is true. This category subsumes work that ranges over these and other questions concerning meaning and its bearing on a variety of philosophical topics.

Key works

Frege 1892 and Russell 1905 are seminal works on meaning and reference. Kripke 1980 and Putnam 1975 argue, among other things, that semantic properties are determined by factors external to language users. Grice 1957 and Davidson 1973 explore the relation of language and thought. Quine 1951 rejects the idea of philosophically interesting truths in virtue of meaning and knowledge in virtue of knowledge of meaning.

Introductions Speaks 2010 provides a survey with references. Richard 2003 is a good collection of articles.
Related categories
Subcategories:
Intentionality* (10,867 | 1,943)
History/traditions: Meaning

9291 found
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1 — 50 / 9291
Material to categorize
  1. Review of Fritz Mauthner’s Die Sprache. [REVIEW]Rainer Ebert - 2013 - Copula: Jahangirnagar University Studies in Philosophy 30:65-67.
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  2. Contested Slurs.Renée Jorgensen Bolinger - 2020 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 97 (1):11-30.
    Sometimes speakers within a linguistic community use a term that they do not conceptualize as a slur, but which other members of that community do. Sometimes these speakers are ignorant or naïve, but not always. This article explores a puzzle raised when some speakers stubbornly maintain that a contested term t is not derogatory. Because the semantic content of a term depends on the language, to say that their use of t is semantically derogatory despite their claims and intentions, we (...)
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  3. The Organism and its Umwelt: A Counterpoint Between the Theories of Uexküll, Goldstein and Canguilhem.Agustin Ostachuk - 2019 - In Jakob von Uexküll and Philosophy: Life, Environments, Anthropology. Londres, Reino Unido: pp. 158-171.
    The topic of the relationship between the organism and its environment runs through the theories of Uexküll, Goldstein and Canguilhem with equal importance. In this work a counterpoint will be established between their theories, in the attempt to assess at which points the melodies are concordant and at which points they are discordant. As fundamental basis to his theory, Uexküll relies on the concept of conformity to a plan, which allows him to account for the congruity and perfect adjustment between (...)
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  4. Why Should Syntactic Islands Exist?Eran Asoulin - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Sentences that are ungrammatical and yet intelligible are instances of what I call perfectly thinkable thoughts. I argue that the existence of perfectly thinkable thoughts is revealing in regard to the question of why syntactic islands should exist. If language is an instrument of thought as understood in the biolinguistics tradition, then a uniquely human subset of thoughts is generated in narrow syntax, which suggests that island constraints cannot be rooted in narrow syntax alone and thus must reflect interface conditions (...)
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  5. Idealisation in Natural Language Semantics: Truth-Conditions for Radical Contextualists.Gabe Dupre - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In this paper, I shall provide a novel response to the argument from context-sensitivity against truth-conditional semantics. It is often argued that the contextual influences on truth-conditions outstrip the resources of standard truth-conditional accounts, and so truth-conditional semantics rests on a mistake. The argument assumes that truth-conditional semantics is legitimate if and only if natural language sentences have truth-conditions. I shall argue that this assumption is mistaken. Truth-conditional analyses should be viewed as idealised approximations of the complexities of natural language (...)
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  6. Textplicating Iconophones : Articulatory Iconic Action in Ulysses.Nurit Levy - 2016 - Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins.
    This volume applies a sign-oriented approach to the description of articulatory and acoustic iconic phenomena in James Joyce’s Ulysses. In its hypothesis, the greater the role of sensory experience in the message of a text, the more likely it is to employ linguistic representation in articulated sounds iconically to affect sensory experience. Ulysses is presented as a work of art whose emphasis on sensual impression and sensory experience is reflected in the composition and distribution of its phonemes. Four English phonemes (...)
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  7. Against Salmon: Saving Conceptual Theories / Contra Salmon: Salvando as Teorias Conceituais.Rodrigo Cid - 2011 - Itaca 18:133-148.
    In this paper I intend to expose some of Nathan Salmon's arguments, which aim to show that the conceptual theories of the informational value of singular terms cannot be the case, and to present some objections to these arguments, objections which seek to restore the capacity of the conceptual theories to secure the referent, and to have a concept as the informational value of a singular term. I fulfill such goal by making an initial introduction, where I briefly explain Frege's (...)
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  8. Measure for Measure: Wittgenstein's Critique of the Augustinian Picture of Music.Eran Guter - 2019 - In Hanne Appelqvist (ed.), Wittgenstein and the Limits of Language. London: Routledge. pp. 245-269.
    This article concerns the distinction between memory-time and information-time, which appeared in Wittgenstein’s middle-period lectures and writings, and its relation to Wittgenstein’s career-long reflection about musical understanding. While the idea of “information-time” entails a public frame of reference typically pertaining to objects which persist in physical time, the idea of pure “memory-time” involves the totality of one’s present memories and expectations that do now provide any way of measuring time-spans. I argue that Wittgenstein’s critique of Augustine notion of pure memory-time (...)
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  9. ¿Empirismo sin dogmas?David Villena Saldaña - 2006 - Solar 2 (2):51-71.
    This papers assesses the possibility of an empiricism without dogmas. It advances an argument against Quine's conceptions regarding philosophy of language and tries to expand the Davidsonian semantic and epistemic program.
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  10. Metasemantics, Moral Realism and Moral Doctrines.Christine Tiefensee - manuscript
    In this paper, I consider the relationship between Matthew Kramer’s moral realism as a moral doctrine and expressivism, understood as a distinctly non-representationalist metasemantics of moral vocabulary. More precisely, I argue that Kramer is right in stating that moral realism as a moral doctrine does not stand in conflict with expressivism. But I will also go further, submitting that advocates of moral realism as a moral doctrine must be expressivists in some shape or form. Accordingly, if you do not want (...)
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  11. Metasemantics for the Relaxed.Christine Tiefensee - manuscript
    In this paper, I develop a metasemantics for relaxed moral realism. More precisely, I argue that relaxed realists should be inferentialists about meaning and explain that the role of evaluative moral vocabulary is to organise and structure language exit transitions, much as the role of theoretical vocabulary is to organise and structure language entry transitions.
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  12. The Primacy of Use Over Naming.Alok Sahu - 2019 - IOSR 24 (5):26-34.
    In Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein proposed the notion of meaning that accounts for the large variety of contexts in which we apply the term “meaning”. This paper agreement with the manner in which Wittgenstein enhance his conception of meaning emphasizing his methodology of observation and description of particular cases. By applying a descriptive approach, Wittgenstein demonstrated that meaning of the term does not reside in physical or mental objects as well as in its correlations. As a result of contrasting denotative theory (...)
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  13. Actual and Non-Actual Motion: Why Experientialist Semantics Needs Phenomenology.Johan Blomberg & Jordan Zlatev - 2014 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (3):395-418.
    Experientialist semantics has contributed to a broader notion of linguistic meaning by emphasizing notions such as construal, perspective, metaphor, and embodiment, but has suffered from an individualist concept of meaning and has conflated experiential motivations with conventional semantics. We argue that these problems can be redressed by methods and concepts from phenomenology, on the basis of a case study of sentences of non-actual motion such as “The mountain range goes all the way from Mexico to Canada.” Through a phenomenological reanalysis (...)
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  14. ‘The Customary Meanings Of Words Were Changed’ – Or Were They? A Note On Thucydides 3.82.4.John Wilson - 1982 - Classical Quarterly 32 (1):18-20.
    All editors and translators that I know of render the first part of this passage along the lines of ‘They changed the usual meanings of words‘. Thus Weil and Romilly talk of ‘le sens usuel des mots’,1 Stahl of ‘usitatam vocabulorum significationem’,2 Bloomfield of ‘the accustomed acceptation of names’;3 the most popular modern English translation gives ‘words... had to change their usual meanings’,4 and the best-known modern commentary the phrase in my title – ‘the customary meanings of words were changed’.5 (...)
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  15. Metasemantics: New Essays on the Foundations of Meaning.Alexis Burgess & Brett Sherman (eds.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    Metasemantics comprises new work on the philosophical foundations of linguistic semantics, by a diverse group of established and emerging experts in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, and the theory of content. The science of semantics aspires to systematically specify the meanings of linguistic expressions in context. The paradigmatic metasemantic question is accordingly: what more basic or fundamental features of the world metaphysically determine these semantic facts? Efforts to answer this question inevitably raise others, including: where are the boundaries of semantics?; (...)
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  16. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 21.Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.) - 2018 - Semantics Archives.
    The present volume contains a collection of papers presented at the 21st annual meeting “Sinn und Bedeutung” of the Gesellschaft fur Semantik, which was held at the University of Edinburgh on September 4th–6th, 2016. The Sinn und Bedeutung conferences are one of the leading international venues for research in formal semantics.
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  17. Pragmatismo y pragmaticismo Condiciones semióticas para la fundamentación del conocimiento científico.Julio Horta - 2019 - In Publicaciones del Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales. Ciudad de México, CDMX, México: pp. 123-146.
    El presente artículo busca hacer una revisión del concepto de verdad como fundamento del conocimiento científico: desde el pragmatismo de William James y Jürgen Habermas hasta las nociones pragmáticas de Charles -/- Sanders Peirce, con la intención de mostrar los rasgos pertinentes -/- e insuficiencias de cada postura. De manera complementaria, se -/- buscará dar cuenta de los niveles: pragmático (semiótico-filosófico) -/- y pragmatista (psicológico), en los que funciona dicho concepto -/- dentro de la filosofía peirciana. Finalmente, tal esbozo teórico (...)
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  18. Espacio, significación y vivencia: implicaciones semióticas sobre la noción Centro Histórico.Julio Horta - 2015 - In Olimpia Niglio (ed.), edA. Roma, Italia: pp. 134-146.
    Este artículo tiene el objetivo de explorar algunas funciones semióticas que constituyen el espacio urbano. Se revisarán algunas categorías y operaciones semióticas relevantes en la comprensión del espacio para que, desde ahí, se pueda explorar el sentido de la noción Centro Histórico como un concepto fundamental en la construcción del imaginario social en las ciudades de occidente.
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  19. Univocal Predicates of God: Analytical Philosophy’s Contributions to the Problem of Religious Language.Andrey Pukhaev - 2015 - Acta Eruditorum 18 (2015):19-22.
    In contemporary philosophy of religion, the two most standard approaches to predicates of God are analogy and univocation. While analogy lacks precision and is best used in liturgical and sacred texts, univocal predicates are problematic because they seem to lead to ontological monism of sameness between God and creatures, which cannot be allowed within metaphysics of Absolute Being. In this article, I examine and contrast G. Frege’s approach to univocal predications and L. Wittgenstein’s notion of language-games, which allows us to (...)
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  20. Expression-Meaning and Vagueness.Stephen Schiffer - forthcoming - In Arthur Sullivan (ed.), Sensations, Thoughts, Language: Essays in Honor of Brian Loar. Routledge.
    Brian Loar attempted to provide the Gricean program of intention-based semantics with an account of expression-meaning. But the theory he presented, like virtually every other foundational semantic or meta-semantical theory, was an idealization that ignored vagueness. What would happen if we tried to devise theories that accommodated the vagueness of vague expressions? I offer arguments based on well-known features of vagueness that, if sound, show that neither Brian’s nor any other extant theory could successfully make that adjustment, and this because, (...)
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  21. Norm Conflicts and Conditionals.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, David Kellen, Ulrike Hahn & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2019 - Psychological Review (5):611-633.
    Suppose that two competing norms, N1 and N2, can be identified such that a given person’s response can be interpreted as correct according to N1 but incorrect according to N2. Which of these two norms, if any, should one use to interpret such a response? In this paper we seek to address this fundamental problem by studying individual variation in the interpretation of conditionals by establishing individual profiles of the participants based on their case judgments and reflective attitudes. To investigate (...)
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  22. Pejoratives as Social Kinds: Objections to Miscevic's Account.Mirela Fus - 2016 - In Nenad Miščević & Julija Perhat (eds.), A Word Which Bears a Sword: Inquiries into Pejoratives. Zagreb, Croatia: pp. 179-202.
    My aim in this paper is to present and discuss Miscevic's position on pejorative terms. Pejorative terms, for Miscevic, are negative hybrid social kind terms that refer directly and pick out social kinds as their referents. Despite sharing some of Miscevic's intuitions on pejorative terms, I raise three main objections to his account. First, I argue that introducing pluralistic commitments about propositions is not helpful in any way for his account. On the contrary, I show that it brings about the (...)
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  23. Victor Dudman's Grammar and Semantics by Jean Curthoys and Victor H. Dudman: Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, Pp. Xi + 158, £58. [REVIEW]Charles B. Cross - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):789-791.
    This is a review of Jean Curthoys and Victor H. Dudman, VICTOR DUDMAN'S GRAMMAR AND SEMANTICS (Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
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  24. Sense, Reference, and Philosophy. [REVIEW]Eros Corazza - 2006 - Disputatio 1 (20):359-361.
  25. Opérations mentales et théories sémantiques. Le rôle du kantisme.Lia Formigari - 1992 - Histoire Epistémologie Langage 14 (2):153-173.
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  26. Kathleen Dow Magnus, Hegel and the Symbolic Mediation of Spirit . Pp. 291. ISBN 0791450465. £15.00.Victoria I. Burke - 2002 - Hegel Bulletin 23 (1-2):138-142.
    Kathleen Dow Magnus' Hegel and the Symbolic Mediation of Spirit is a welcome exposition of the role of the symbol in Hegel's philosophy, and it is an important contribution to scholarship on Hegel's philosophy of language, aesthetics, and theology. Magnus is concerned to provide an alternative to the view that Hegel fails to recognize the value of the symbol in the course of privileging the sign. As Jacques Derrida writes, "The sign, as the unity of the signifying body and the (...)
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  27. A Semantic Analysis of Russellian Simple Type Theory.Sten Lindström - 1986 - In Paul Needham & Jan Odelstad (eds.), Changing Positions, Essays Dedicated to Lars Lindahl on the Occassion of His Fiftieth Birthday. Uppsala:
    As emphasized by Alonzo Church and David Kaplan (Church 1974, Kaplan 1975), the philosophies of language of Frege and Russell incorporate quite different methods of semantic analysis with different basic concepts and different ontologies. Accordingly we distinguish between a Fregean and a Russellian tradition in intensional semantics. The purpose of this paper is to pursue the Russellian alternative and to provide a language of intensional logic with a model-theoretic semantics. We also discuss the so-called Russell-Myhill paradox that threatens simple Russellian (...)
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  28. Hyperintensional Semantics: A Fregean Approach.Mattias Skipper & Jens Christian Bjerring - forthcoming - Synthese:1-24.
    In this paper, we present a new semantic framework designed to capture a distinctly cognitive or epistemic notion of meaning akin to Fregean senses. Traditional Carnapian intensions are too coarse-grained for this purpose: they fail to draw semantic distinctions between sentences that, from a Fregean perspective, differ in meaning. This has led some philosophers to introduce more fine-grained hyperintensions that allow us to draw semantic distinctions among co-intensional sentences. But the hyperintensional strategy has a flip-side: it risks drawing semantic distinctions (...)
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  29. Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference.Saul Kripke - 1977 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1):255-276.
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  30. A Purpose for Context Sensitivity.Alex Davies - 2012 - Dissertation, King’s College London
    This thesis has two parts. In Part I there is an argument for the conclusion that a linguistic phenomenon known as (radical) context-sensitivity is to be expected given the limitations of those who use language to reason about empirical states of affairs. The phenomenon arises as a consequence of a process that must be performed to use language to reason validly. In Part II it is explained why the phenomenon, understood in light of the discussion of Part I, does not (...)
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  31. Davidson’s Antirealism?Alexander Miller & Ali Hossein Khani - 2015 - Revista de Filosofia Aurora 27 (40):265.
    Frederic Stoutland (1982a, 1982b) has argued that a Davidsonian theory of meaning is incompatible with a realist view of truth, on which the truth-conditions of sentences consist of mind-independent states of affairs or concatenations of extra-linguistic objects. In this paper we show that Stoutland’s argument is a failure.
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  32. Significado e Cognição. O Legado de Frege.João Branquinho - 2016 - In Léo Peruzzo Júnior E. Bortolo Valle (ed.), Filosofia da Linguagem. Curitiba, PR, Brasil: pp. 9 - 52.
    Queremos neste ensaio caracterizar de modo introdutório o essencial do legado de Gottlob Frege para a Filosofia da Linguagem contemporânea, identificando e caracterizando os traços distintivos mais genéricos de uma teoria do significado (ou conteúdo semântico) inspirada nas suas ideias seminais e contrastando-a com outras concepções actuais influentes acerca do significado, em especial as posições sobre o conteúdo singular (conteúdo expresso por nomes próprios e outros termos singulares) remotamente inspiradas em ideias de John Stuart Mill.
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  33. Cognition and Content.João Branquinho - 2005 - Lisboa, Portugal: Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa.
    Os tópicos e problemas filosóficos discutidos no volume são de natureza bastante variada: a natureza da complexidade computacional no processamento de uma língua natural; a relação entre o significado linguístico e o sentido Fregeano; as conexões entre a a agência e o poder; o conteúdo semântico da ficção; a explicação dos impasses éticos; a natureza dos argumentos cépticos; as conexões entre as dissociações cognitivas e o carácter modular da mente; a relação entre a referência e o significado. Estes tópicos deixam-se (...)
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  34. Indétermination de la traduction et intentionnalité.Denis Fisette - 1993 - Philosophie 38:58-90.
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  35. Language and Reality From a Naturalistic Perspective: Themes From Michael Devitt.Andrea Bianchi (ed.) - forthcoming - Cham: Springer.
    This book celebrates the many important contributions to philosophy by one of the leading philosophers in the analytic field, Michael Devitt. It collects seventeen original essays by renowned philosophers from all over the world. They all develop themes from Devitt’s work, thus discussing many fundamental issues in philosophy of linguistics, theory of reference, theory of meaning, methodology, and metaphysics. In a long final chapter, Devitt himself replies to the contributors. In so doing, he further elaborates his views on various of (...)
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  36. The Dilemma Imposed on the Realist by Putnam's and Kripkensteinian Argument.Henrik Sova - 2017 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 10 (1):62-82.
    In this article, I have two aims. Firstly, I argue that Hilary Putnam's model theoretic indeterminacy argument against external realism and Saul Kripke's so-called Kripkensteinian argument against semantic realism have the same dialectical structure and the same conclusion---both force the opponent to face the same dilemma. Namely: either adopt meaning minimalism or postulate unobservable semantic facts. Secondly, I analyze more closely the first horn of the dilemma---meaning minimalism. This is the position according to which there are no truth conditions for (...)
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  37. Limitations of the Knowledge Interchange Format as a General Purpose Content Communication Language.Andreas Strotmann - 2004 - Journal of Intelligent Systems 13 (1):1-14.
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  38. Language as Signs.John Weldon Powell - 1988 - Dissertation, University of Oregon
    Philosophers disagree, with some rare exceptions. One of those exceptions is the broadest-brush account of what language is. Language is a system of signs used for the communication of --well, and here the agreement begins to break down--thoughts, ideas, messages, propositions or propositional contents, intentions, and a host of technical terms offer themselves to chink the cracks. A list of philosophers subscribing would be impossible to complete. Locke, Carnap, Augustine, Hobbes, Fodor, Katz, Chomsky, Derrida, --well, and on and on. Easier (...)
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  39. Why Philosophers Shouldn’T Do Semantics.Herman Cappelen - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (4):743-762.
    The linguistic turn provided philosophers with a range of reasons for engaging in careful investigation into the nature and structure of language. However, the linguistic turn is dead. The arguments for it have been abandoned. This raises the question: why should philosophers take an interest in the minutiae of natural language semantics? I’ll argue that there isn’t much of a reason - philosophy of language has lost its way. Then I provide a suggestion for how it can find its way (...)
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  40. What Was the Syntax‐Semantics Debate in the Philosophy of Science About?Sebastian Lutz - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2):319-352.
    The debate between critics of syntactic and semantic approaches to the formalization of scientific theories has been going on for over 50 years. I structure the debate in light of a recent exchange between Hans Halvorson, Clark Glymour, and Bas van Fraassen and argue that the only remaining disagreement concerns the alleged difference in the dependence of syntactic and semantic approaches on languages of predicate logic. This difference turns out to be illusory.
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  41. Finding Meaning.Emma Borg - unknown
    Philosophical questions about how language imparts meaning impact on our understanding of everything from machine translation to legal statutes. This article outlines the key theories and explores why experts still can't agree.
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  42. Naturalist Semantics and the Appeal to Structure.Robert De Gaynesford - unknown
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  43. What Makes Logical Truths True?Constantin C. Brîncuș - 2016 - Logos and Episteme 7 (3): 249-272.
    The concern of deductive logic is generally viewed as the systematic recognition of logical principles, i.e., of logical truths. This paper presents and analyzes different instantiations of the three main interpretations of logical principles, viz. as ontological principles, as empirical hypotheses, and as true propositions in virtue of meanings. I argue in this paper that logical principles are true propositions in virtue of the meanings of the logical terms within a certain linguistic framework. Since these principles also regulate and control (...)
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  44. Must a Semantic Minimalist Be a Semantic Internalist?Emma Borg - unknown
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  45. A Performadox in Truth-Conditional Semantics.Steven E. Boër - 1980 - Linguistics and Philosophy 4:71.
    An argument is developed at some length to show that any semantical theory which treats superficially nonperformative sentences as being governed by performative prefaces at some level of underlying structure must either leave those sentences semantically uninterpreted or assign them the wrong truth-conditions. Several possible escapes from this dilemma are examined; it is tentatively concluded that such hypotheses as the Ross-Lakoff-Sadock "Performative Analysis" should be rejected despite their attractions.
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  46. Insensitive Semantics: A Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism.Herman Cappelen & Ernie Lepore - 2006 - Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (1):1-26.
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  47. Meaning and Assertibility: Some Reflections on Paolo Casalegno's ‘The Problem of Non‐Conclusiveness’.Crispin Wright - 2012 - Dialectica 66 (2):249-266.
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  48. The Role of Logical Form in Propositions About Existence.Rudolf Kagey - 1933 - Journal of Philosophy 30 (5):138-139.
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  49. Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics.W. V. Quine - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):225-241.
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  50. The Meaning of Meaning. A Study of the Influence of Language Upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism.J. R. Kantor - 1924 - Journal of Philosophy 21 (8):212-219.
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1 — 50 / 9291