Is meaning normative?

Mind and Language 21 (2):220-240 (2006)
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Abstract

Many people claim that semantic content is normative, and that therefore naturalistic theories of content face a potentially insuperable difficulty. The normativity of content allegedly undermines naturalism by introducing a gap between semantic 'ought's and the explanatory resources of naturalism. I argue here that this problem is not ultimately pressing for naturalists. The normativity thesis, I maintain, is ambiguous; it could mean either that the content of a term prescribes a pattern of use, or that it merely determines which pattern of use can be described as 'correct'. For the antinaturalist argument to go forward, content must be prescriptive. I argue, however, that it is not. Moreover, the thesis that content supplies standards for correct use is insufficient to supply a similar, a priori objection to naturalism.

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Anandi Hattiangadi
Stockholm University

Citations of this work

Inferentialism: Why Rules Matter.Jaroslav Peregrin - 2014 - London and New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Linguistic Mistakes.Indrek Reiland - 2023 - Erkenntnis 88 (5):2191-2206.
Killing Kripkenstein's Monster.Jared Warren - 2020 - Noûs 54 (2):257-289.
Does thought imply ought?Krister Bykvist & Anandi Hattiangadi - 2007 - Analysis 67 (4):277–285.

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References found in this work

A treatise of human nature.David Hume & D. G. C. Macnabb (eds.) - 2003 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications.
Principia ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Thomas Baldwin.

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