Talking with Tonkers

Philosophers' Imprint 15 (2015)
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Abstract

Unrestricted inferentialism holds both that any collection of inference rules can determine a meaning for an expression and meaning constituting rules are automatically valid. Prior's infamous tonk connective refuted unrestricted inferentialism, or so it is universally thought. This paper argues against this consensus. I start by formulating the metasemantic theses of inferentialism with more care than they have hitherto received; I then consider a tonk language — Tonklish — and argue that the unrestricted inferentialist's treatment of this language is only problematic if it is mistakenly assumed that Tonklish can be homophonically translated into English. Next, I discuss the proper, non-homophonic, translation of Tonklish into English, rebut various objections, and consider several variants of Tonklish. The paper closes by highlighting the philosophical advantages that unrestricted inferentialism has over its competitors once the terrors of tonk have been tamed.

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Jared Warren
Stanford University

Citations of this work

Weak Assertion.Luca Incurvati & Julian J. Schlöder - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):741-770.
.Luca Incurvati & Julian J. Schlöder - 2023 - New York: Oxford University Press USA.
Defending Understanding-Assent Links.Jared Warren - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):9219-9236.

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