Synthese 115 (1):33-70 (1998)

Sanford Shieh
Wesleyan University
The central premise of Michael Dummett's global argument for anti-realism is the thesis that a speaker's grasp of the meaning of a declarative, indexical-free sentence must be manifested in her uses of that sentence. This enigmatic thesis has been the subject of a great deal of discussion, and something of a consensus has emerged about its content and justification. The received view is that the manifestation thesis expresses a behaviorist and reductive theory of meaning, essentially in agreement with Quine's view of language, and motivated by worries about the epistemology of communication. In the present paper I begin by arguing that this standard interpretation of the manifestation thesis is neither particularly faithful to Dummett's writings nor philosophically compelling. I then continue by reconstructing, from Dummett's texts, an account of the manifestation thesis, and of its justification, that differ sharply from the received view. On my reading, the thesis is motivated not epistemologically, but conceptually. I argue that connections among our conceptions of meaning, assertion, and justification lead to a conclusion about the metaphysics of meaning: we cannot form a clearly coherent conception of how two speakers can attach different meanings to a sentence without at the same time differing in what they count as justifying assertions made with that sentence. I conclude with some suggestions about how Dummett's argument for global anti-realism should be understood, given my account of the manifestation thesis.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005020809621
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References found in this work BETA

What is a Theory of Meaning?Michael A. E. Dummett - 1975 - In Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language. Oxford University Press.
Truth.Michael Dummett - 1959 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 59:141-162.
Anti-Realism and the Epistemology of Understanding.John McDowell - 1981 - In Herman Parret & Jacques Bouveresse (eds.), Meaning and Understanding. W. De Gruyter. pp. 225--248.
Dummett's Anti-Realism.Michael Devitt - 1983 - Journal of Philosophy 80 (2):73-99.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Semantic Realism/Anti-Realism Dispute and Knowledge of Meanings.Panu Raatikainen - 2009 - The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 5:1-13.
Use and Meaning.Richard Heck - 2007 - In R. E. Auxier & L. E. Hahn (eds.), The Philosophy of Michael Dummett. Open Court. pp. 531--57.
A Critique of Hiroshi Kaneko, Dummett Ni Tadoritsuku Made: Hanjitsuzairon Toha Nani Ka.Takeshi Yamada - 2016 - Journal of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 43 (1-2):37-48.
Introduction.Elisabeth Camp - 2007 - The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 3.
Review: The Anti-Realist's Past. [REVIEW]Sanford Shieh - 2008 - History and Theory 47 (2):270-278.

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Undecidability in Anti-Realism.Sanford Shieh - 1998 - Philosophia Mathematica 6 (3):324-333.
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