Charity and the normativity of meaning


Authors
Henry Jackman
York University
Abstract
It has frequently been suggested that meaning is, in some important sense, normative. However, precisely what is particularly normative about it is often left without any satisfactory explanation, and the ‘normativity thesis’ has thus, justly, been called into question. That said, it will be argued here that the intuition that meaning is ‘normative’ is on the right track, even if many of the purported explanations for meaning’s normativity are not. In particular, rather that being particularly social, the normativity of meaning may follow from the more logical/epistemic relations between use and meaning. Because of this, some use-based theories we still be able to accommodate the normativity of meaning by allowing that while meaning supervenes upon use, the function from use to meaning is a normative one.
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