Developing Sellars's Semantic Legacy: Meaning as a Role


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Wilfrid Sellars's analysis of the concept of meaning led, in effect, to the conclusion that the meaning of an expression is its inferential role. This view is often challenged by the claim that inference is a matter of syntax and syntax can never yield us semantics. I argue that this challenge is based on the confusion of two senses of "syntax"; and I try to throw some new light on the concept of inferential role. My conclusion is that the Sellarsian view that something can have meaning only if it is subject to inferences is viable, and that inferential role is a plausible explication of meaning. However I also argue, pace Sellars, that the inferential nature of meaning does not prevent us from engaging in the enterprise of Carnapian formal semantics
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