Reference, inference and the semantics of pejoratives

In Joseph Almog & Paolo Leonardi (eds.), The Philosophy of David Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 137--159 (2009)
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Two opposing tendencies in the philosophy of language go by the names of ‘referentialism’ and ‘inferentialism’ respectively. In the crudest version of the contrast, the referentialist account of meaning gives centre stage to the referential semantics for a language, which is then used to explain the inference rules for the language, perhaps as those which preserve truth on that semantics (since a referential semantics for a language determines the truth-conditions of its sentences). By contrast, the inferentialist account of meaning gives centre stage to the inference rules for the language, which are then used to explain its referential semantics, perhaps as the semantics on which the rules preserve truth. On pain of circularity, we cannot combine both directions of explanation.



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