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

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
Intentionality* (10,407 | 1,973)
History/traditions: Meaning

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Material to categorize
  1. Indagaciones Sobre El Lenguaje. [REVIEW]L. M. A. De - 1971 - Review of Metaphysics 24 (3):541-542.
  2. Collected Papers.B. W. A. - 1972 - Review of Metaphysics 25 (3):567-568.
  3. Symbolic Logic. [REVIEW]E. J. A. - 1966 - Review of Metaphysics 19 (4):808-808.
  4. Semantic Analysis. [REVIEW]P. D. M. A. - 1961 - Review of Metaphysics 14 (4):728-728.
  5. Two Soviet Studies on Frege. [REVIEW]W. W. A. - 1966 - Review of Metaphysics 19 (3):579-579.
  6. Seiki Akama, Ed., Logic, Language and Computation Reviewed By.Barbara Abbott - 1998 - Philosophy in Review 18 (5):313-314.
  7. Seiki Akama, Ed., Logic, Language and Computation. [REVIEW]Barbara Abbott - 1998 - Philosophy in Review 18:313-314.
  8. Making Sense.Barbara Abbott & Grover Hudson - 1981 - Linguistics and Philosophy 4 (3):437-451.
    This would have been a better book if Sampson had argued his main point, the usefulness of the Simonian principle as an explanation of the evolution, structure, and acquisition of language, on its own merits, instead of making it subsidiary to his attack on ‘limited-minders’ (e.g., Noam Chomsky). The energy he has spent on the attack he might then have been willing and able to employ in developing his argument at reasonable length and detail. He might then have found that (...)
  9. Meaning of (F) the Text. Communicative Meaning of Sounds in Radio.C. Aberg - 2001 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 69:135-158.
  10. What is the Theory of Meaning About?Leo Abraham - 1936 - The Monist 46 (2):228-258.
  11. Theory and Meaning.Peter Achinstein & David Papineau - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (3):493.
  12. On the Meaning of the C0nditi0nal.Ernest W. Adams - 1987 - Philosophical Topics 15 (1).
  13. Schiffer on Modes of Presentation.Fred Adams, Robert Stecker & Gary Fuller - 1993 - Analysis 53 (1):30 - 34.
  14. Now Published: Vol. V, No. 36, October 2013 – Book Symposium on François Recanati’s Mental Files, Edited by Fiora Salis. [REVIEW] Admin - 2013 - Disputatio.
  15. Semantic Validity and Normative Syllogism.C. Alarcón Cabrera - 1994 - Rechtstheorie 25 (4):473-484.
  16. Meaning, Communication, and Value.Virgil C. Aldrich & Paul Kecskemeti - 1954 - Philosophical Review 63 (1):139.
  17. Semantic Analysis.Virgil C. Aldrich & Paul Ziff - 1962 - Philosophical Review 71 (2):243.
  18. Clinical Philosophy: A Discourse for Practitioners.Charles Alexander - 2008 - Philosophical Practice 3 (1):235-242.
    Life is full of expressions: and the congruent expression of life is what we call sanity. All expressions are, at first, conceived int he mind with the help of logic and language. Every overt expression is contingent upon the ratiocination within oneself. Each and every mental state has its syntax, semantics and an unconscious ratiocination technique. The syntax will often contain a name or an object that has the potential to produce an array of feelings connected to it, which may (...)
  19. Natural Language Processing Using a Propositional Semantic Network with Structured Variables.Syed S. Ali & Stuart C. Shapiro - 1993 - Minds and Machines 3 (4):421-451.
    We describe a knowledge representation and inference formalism, based on an intensional propositional semantic network, in which variables are structures terms consisting of quantifier, type, and other information. This has three important consequences for natural language processing. First, this leads to an extended, more natural formalism whose use and representations are consistent with the use of variables in natural language in two ways: the structure of representations mirrors the structure of the language and allows re-use phenomena such as pronouns and (...)
  20. Beyond Meaning.Donald Allan - 2002 - Free Inquiry 22.
  21. Linguistic Meaning.Keith Allan - 1986 - Routledge & Kegan Paul.
    Chapter Beginning an account of linguistic meaning: speaker, hearer, context, and utterance Pity the poor analyst, who has to do the best he can with ...
  22. Meaning Potentials and Context: Some Consequences for the Analysis of Variation in Meaning.Jens Allwood - 2003 - In H. Cuyckens, René Dirven & John R. Taylor (eds.), Cognitive Approaches to Lexical Semantics. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 23--29.
  23. Dthis and Dthat: Indexicality Goes Beyond That.Joseph Almog - 1981 - Philosophical Studies 39 (4):347 - 381.
  24. Having In Mind: The Philosophy of Keith Donnellan.Joseph Almog & Paolo Leonardi (eds.) - 2011 - Oxford, but (c) David Kaplan.
    Keith Donnellan of UCLA is one of the founding fathers of contemporary philosophy of language, along with David Kaplan and Saul Kripke. Donnellan was and is an extremely creative thinker whose insights reached into metaphysics, action theory, the history of philosophy, and of course the philosophy of mind and language. This volume collects the best critical essays on Donnellan's forty-year body of work. The pieces by such noted philosophers as Tyler Burge, David Kaplan, and John Perry, discuss Donnellan's various insights (...)
  25. What's the Meaning of All This?Brenda Almond - 1999 - Philosophy Now 24:20-21.
  26. Aune on Thought and Language.William P. Alston - 1969 - Noûs 3 (2):169-183.
  27. Meaning.William P. Alston - 1967 - In Paul Edwards (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Macmillan. pp. 5--233.
  28. The Quest for Meanings.William P. Alston - 1963 - Mind 72 (285):79-87.
  29. Meaning, Truth and Evidence.Andrew Altman & Michael Bradie - 1980 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 18 (2):113-122.
  30. Thought and Truth a Critique of Philosophy: Its Source and Meaning.M. H. Amishai - 1956 - Bookman Associates.
  31. David Kaplan: Formal Aspects of His Work.C. Anthony Anderson - 2009 - In Joseph Almog & Paolo Leonardi (eds.), The Philosophy of David Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 11.
  32. Thoughts on Oughts.Stephen Anderson - 2013 - Philosophy Now 99:26-29.
  33. The Meaning of 'Meaning'.Stephen Anderson - 2012 - Philosophy Now 88:30-33.
  34. The Meaning of Philosophy.W. Anderson - 1923 - Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy 1 (4):241-247.
  35. The Meaning of Philosophy (II.).W. Anderson - 1923 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1 (4):241 – 247.
  36. The Meaning of Work and Job.Marie-Louise Andersson - 1992 - International Journal of Value-Based Management 5 (1):89-106.
  37. Wittgenstein and Interreligious Disagreement: A Philosophical and Theological Perspective.Gorazd Andrejč - forthcoming - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    This book critically examines three distinct interpretations of Ludwig Wittgenstein, those of George Lindbeck, David Tracy, and David Burrell, while paying special attention to the topic of interreligious disagreement. In theological and philosophical work on interreligious communication, Ludwig Wittgenstein has been interpreted in very different, sometimes contradicting ways. This is partly due to the nature of Wittgenstein’s philosophical investigation, which does not consist of a theory nor does it posit theses about religion, but includes several, varying conceptions of religion. In (...)
  38. Anfang Und Grenzen des Sinns: Für Emil Angehrn.Emil Angehrn, Brigitte Hilmer, Georg Lohmann & Tilo Wesche (eds.) - 2006 - Velbrück Wissenschaft.
  39. ZIFF, P. - "Semantic Analysis". [REVIEW]G. E. M. Anscombe - 1963 - Mind 72:288.
  40. The Meaning of Illegitimacy.G. E. M. Anscombe & J. Teichman - 1979 - Philosophical Quarterly 29 (117):375.
  41. Necesidad lógica y necesidad analítica. ¿Sobre qué versa el lenguaje?Javier Vilanova Arias - 2004 - Revista de Filosofía (Madrid) 29 (1):123-142.
    El propósito de este artículo es mostrar las diferencia entre las verdades lógicas y el resto de verdades analíticas, y en especial mostrar los distintos tratamientos formales.
  42. The Very Idea of a Naturalized Semantics.Dennis Brian Arjo - 1996 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
    "Naturalized semantics" is the attempt to define semantic notions like meaning and representation in terms of purely non-semantic properties. It is widely accepted that mental states like beliefs have essentially a semantical aspect, which has led many to wonder how such states can be accommodated by a natural science of the mind. A reductive account of meaning is supposed to contribute to a dissolution of such worries. This work is a critical examination of the very idea of a naturalized semantics (...)
  43. Are Meanings in the Head? Ingarden’s Theory of Meaning.Chrudzimski Arkadiusz - 1999 - Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 30 (3):306-326.
    The title question should be construed as an epistemological and not ontological one. Omitting the difficult problems of the ontology of intentionality we will ask, if all, what is needed to explain the phenomenon of meaningful use of words, could be found “in our private head” interpreted as a sphere of specific privileged access, the sphere that is in the relevant epistemological sense subjective, private or non public. There are many “mentalistic” theories of meaning that force us to the answer: (...)
  44. Sentence, Utterance, and Samesayer.Richard B. Arnaud - 1976 - Noûs 10 (3):283-304.
  45. How to Think About Meaning - by Paul Saka.Keith Arnold - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (4):386-388.
  46. State-Spaces and Meaning Relations Among Predicates.Frank Arntzenius - 1991 - Topoi 10 (1):35-42.
    It has often been suggested that the meaning of terms is theory dependent. Bas van Fraassen has proposed a particular way of inferring which sentences are true in virtue of meaning, given a theory in so-called state-space format. I examine his claims by means of simple examples.
  47. " Understanding Truth", de Scott Soames.A. Arrieta - 2000 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):227-231.
  48. A Vocabulary Building Mechanism Based on Lexicographic Semantics for Querying the Semantic Web.Yu Asano & Yuzuru Tanaka - 2011 - Transactions of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence 26:248-261.
  49. The Trouble with Extensional Semantics.Nicholas Asher - 1985 - Philosophical Studies 47 (1):1 - 14.
  50. Determiners and Resource Situations.Nicholas Asher & Daniel Bonevac - 1987 - Linguistics and Philosophy 10 (4):567 - 596.
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