Michael Esfeld
University of Lausanne
It is common to base an inferential semantics on a social, normative pragmatics, thus conceiving meaning as consisting in certain normative relations (Wittgenstein, Sellars, Brandom). This position faces a trilemma, which is of wider application, concerning all normative statements: (1) Normative statements are true or false. Regarding a certain normative statement as true does not imply that it is true, not even if a whole community takes the statement in question to be true (cognitivism). (2) There are no normative entities in the world that make normative statements true (naturalism). (3) It is not possible to deduce normative statements from descriptive statements (naturalistic fallacy). Each of these principles is well grounded considered in isolation, but their conjunction is inconsistent. We have to give up one of these principles. I shall argue in favour of abandoning (3) and outline a naturalistic account of the normative relations that constitute meaning in an inferentialist perspective, while preserving the objectivity of meaning
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