Rules of Use

Mind and Language 38 (2):566-583 (2023)
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In the middle of the 20th century, it was a common Wittgenstein-inspired idea in philosophy that for a linguistic expression to have a meaning is for it to be governed by a rule of use. In other words, it was widely believed that meanings are to be identified with use-conditions. However, as things stand, this idea is widely taken to be vague and mysterious, inconsistent with “truth-conditional semantics”, and subject to the Frege-Geach problem. In this paper I reinvigorate the ideas that meaningfulness is a matter of being governed by rules of use and that meanings are best thought of in terms of use-conditions. I will do this by sketching the Rule-Governance view of the nature of linguistic meaningfulness, showing that the view isn’t by itself subject to the two problems, and explain why the idea has had a lasting appeal to philosophers from Strawson to Kaplan and why we should find it continually attractive.

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Indrek Reiland
University of Vienna

Citations of this work

Meaning Change.Indrek Reiland - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
Squid games and the lusory attitude.Indrek Reiland - 2022 - Analysis 82 (4):638-646.
Linguistic Disobedience.David Miguel Gray & Benjamin Lennertz - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20 (21):1-16.

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References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
How to do things with words.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press. Edited by Marina Sbisá & J. O. Urmson.
Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Slaves of the passions.Mark Andrew Schroeder - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Principia ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Thomas Baldwin.

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