Is Literal Meaning Conventional?

Topoi 27 (1-2):101-113 (2008)
This paper argues that the literal meaning of words in a natural language is less conventional than usually assumed. Conventionality is defined in terms that are relative to reasons; norms that are determined by reasons are not conventions. The paper argues that in most cases, the literal meaning of words—as it applies to their definite extension—is not conventional. Conventional variations of meaning are typically present in borderline cases, of what I call the extension-range of literal meaning. Finally, some putative and one or two genuine exceptions are discussed
Keywords Convention  Conventional  Definite extension  Literal meaning  Meaning  Semantics
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-008-9027-2
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Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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