Holism: A Consumer Update

Michael Devitt
CUNY Graduate Center
At its most extreme, semantic holism is the doctrine that all the inferential properties of an expression constitute its meaning. Holism is supported by the consideration that there is no principled basis for localism's distinction among these properties. The paper rejects four arguments for this. The argument from confirmation holism is dismissed quickly because it rests on verificationism. The argument from the rejection of analyticity fails because it saddles the localist with unacceptable epistemic assumptions. Localism is not committed to a priori knowledge or to knowledge that is in any interesting sense unrevisable. The argument from psychological explanation fails because it begs the question. The argument from functionalism needs to be accompanied by a further argument that functionalism is essentially holistic. In any case it could only establish a very mild holism
Keywords Analytic Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 9789051837131  
DOI 10.5840/gps1993463
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