Meaning skepticism and normativity

Abstract
Saul Kripke has raised a powerful skeptical objection to an account of meaning based on dispositions. He argues that attempts to explain meaning on the basis of dispositions, no matter how sophisticated, are bound to fail because meaning is normative, whereas dispositions are descriptive. I provide a clear account of the normativity objection, which has often been seen as obscure or been conflated with other objections Kripke raises. I offer a straight solution to the skeptical paradox based on a dispositional approach to meaning that survives the normativity objection. A key aspect of my approach is the assimilation of meaning to secondary properties such as color. I compare meaning attributions with reductive explanations of high-level phenomena in other areas, and argue that there are no differences in kind between the two. Consequently, skepticism about meaning is not better warranted than a similar skepticism about reductive explanations of other high-level phenomena
Keywords Disposition  Language  Normativity  Scepticism  Kripke, Saul
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DOI 10.5840/jpr20053035
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