Topoi 40 (1):27-42 (2021)

Authors
Megan Henricks Stotts
McMaster University
Abstract
According to a well-established tradition in the philosophy of language, we can understand what makes an arbitrary sound, gesture, or marking into a meaningful linguistic expression only by appealing to mental states, such as beliefs and intentions. In this paper, I explore the contrasting possibility of understanding the meaningfulness of linguistic expressions just in terms of observable linguistic behavior. Specifically, I explore the view that a type of sound becomes a meaningful linguistic expression within a group in virtue of the production of that type of item becoming that group’s widespread, copied way of getting others to involve an object or relation in their activity. After discussing a preliminary version of the view, I develop it in response to some key concerns about whether it really does, as a matter of fact, eschew mental states, and about its adequacy as an account of linguistic meaning.
Keywords foundational theory of meaning  metasemantics  linguistic behavior  linguistic meaning
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-019-09675-0
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References found in this work BETA

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.
Studies in the Way of Words.H. P. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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