How a Social Theory of Meaning can be connected with Realism

Facta Philosophica 4:111-131 (2001)
Abstract
Contrary to what is claimed in the literature, a social theory of meaning is committed neither to a social relativism, nor does it have any sort of an idealistic implication. Such a theory of meaning can be seen as being about our epistemic access to a world that is causally and ontologically independent of the social practices which determine meaning. If these social practices are conceived in terms of open-ended I-thou relations between individuals, we avoid any reduction of what is correct in our thoughts about the world to social facts. We are committed to a sort of response-dependence of our concepts, but one which does not infringe upon realism. The upshot is a pragmatic realism: pragmatic, because the meaning of our thoughts is determined by social practices; a realism, because whether or not our thoughts about the world are true supervenes on the way the world is
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