A certain direction in cognitive science has been to try to “ground” public language statements in some species of mental representation. A central tenet of this trend is that communication – that is, public language – succeeds (when it does) because the elements of this public language are in some way correlated with mental items of both the speaker and the audience so that the mental state evoked in the audience by the use of that piece of public language is the one that the speaker wanted to evoke. The “meaning”, therefore, of an utterance – and of the parts of an utterance, such as individual sentences and their parts, the individual words, etc. – is, in this view, some mental item. Successful communication requires that there be widespread agreement amongst speakers of the same public language as to the mental entities that are correlated with any particular public words. Such a view of meaning is variously called “internalist” or “cognitive” or “subjectivist” or “solipsistic” or (sometimes) “representationalist” (these terms having, however, further connotations which set them apart from one another in other ways), and can be found in a wide variety of writers who do not agree on many other things. It is opposed to views that take the meaning of an utterance to be an item of “reality,” however defined. In different writers this latter view is called “externalist” or “objectivist” or “realist” or (sometimes) “represent-ationalist,” always with the idea that there is something other (or at least, more) than the mental state of speakers and hearers that determines meaning. The literature is rife with arguments between internalists vs. externalists, subjectivists vs. objectivists, cognitivists vs. realists, on such topics as “truth” and “synonymy” and “twin earth” and “arthritis” (to mention only a few)..
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