Erkenntnis 83 (2):331-348 (2018)

Inga Vermeulen
Universität Hamburg
Many philosophical disputes, most prominently disputes in ontology, have been suspected of being merely verbal and hence pointless. My goal in this paper is to offer an account of merely verbal disputes and to address the question of what is problematic with such disputes. I begin by arguing that extant accounts that focus on the semantics of the disputed statement S do not capture the full range of cases as they might arise in philosophy. Moreover, these accounts bring in heavy theoretical machinery. I attempt to show that we can capture the full range of cases with an approach that is theoretically lightweight. This approach explains verbal disputes as a pragmatic phenomenon where parties use the same utterance type S with different speaker’s meaning. Moreover, it provides an answer to the crucial question Jackson’s pragmatic account leaves, at best, highly implicit. Based on my account, we can distinguish between different ways in which disputes can be verbal and different extents to which they are defective. Distinguishing between these varieties of verbalness furthermore allows us to specify what kind of substantive issues remain to be discussed once the linguistic confusion is resolved.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-017-9892-4
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References found in this work BETA

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Individualism and the Mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
Meaning.H. Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4 (11):20-40.

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Citations of this work BETA

Verbal Disputes and Topic Continuity.Viktoria Knoll - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Topics, Disputes and 'Going Meta'.Viktoria Knoll - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Two Species of Merely Verbal Disputes.Delia Belleri - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (5):691-710.
Semantic Variance.Martín Abreu Zavaleta - 2018 - Dissertation, New York University
The Matter of Motivating Reasons.J. J. Cunningham - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-27.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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