For Ordinary Languagephilosophy, at issue is the use of the expressions of language, not expressions in and of themselves. So, at issue is not, for example, ordinary versus (say) technical words; nor is it a distinction based on the language used in various areas of discourse, for example academic, technical, scientific, or lay, slang or street discourses – ordinary uses of language occur in all discourses. It is sometimes the case that an expression has (...) distinct uses within distinct discourses, for example, the expression ‘empty space’. This may have both a lay and a scientific use, and both uses may count as ordinary; as long as it is quite clear which discourse is in play, and thus which of the distinct uses of the expression is in play. Though connected, the difference in use of the expression in different discourses signals a difference in the sense with which it is used, on the Ordinary Language view. One use, say the use in physics, in which it refers to a vacuum, is distinct from its lay use, in which it refers rather more flexibly to, say, a room with no objects in it, or an expanse of land with no buildings or trees. However, on this view, one sense of the expression, though more precise than the other, would not do as a replacement of the other term; for the lay use of the term is perfectly adequate for the uses it is put to, and the meaning of the term in physics would not allow speakers to express what they mean in these other contexts. (shrink)
Proponents of linguistic philosophy hold that all non-empirical philosophical problems can be solved by either analyzing ordinary language or developing an ideal one. I review the debates on linguistic philosophy and between ordinary and ideal languagephilosophy. Using arguments from these debates, I argue that the results of experimental philosophy on intuitions support linguistic philosophy. Within linguistic philosophy, these experimental results support and complement ideal languagephilosophy. I argue further that (...) some of the critiques of experimental philosophy are in fact defenses of ideal languagephilosophy. Finally, I show how much of the current debate about experimental philosophy is anticipated in the debates about and within linguistic philosophy. Specifically, arguments by ideal language philosophers support experimental philosophy. (shrink)
Throughout his philosophical development, Wittgenstein was more concerned with language than with any other topic. No other philosopher has been as influential on our understanding of the deep problems surrounding language, and yet the true significance of his writing on the subject is difficult to assess, since most of the current debates regarding language tend to overlook his work. In this book, Thomas McNally shows that philosophers of language still have much to learn from Wittgenstein's later (...) writings. The book examines the finer details of his arguments while also clarifying their importance for debates outside the field of Wittgenstein studies. Presenting the issues thematically, the book explores how the arguments in the Philosophical Investigations remain relevant, compelling us to reflect in novel and challenging ways on the nature of language. (shrink)
The idea that thought and language can be clarified through logical methods seems problematic because, while thought and language are not always exact, logic (by its very nature) must be. According to Kuusela, ideal (ILP, represented by Frege and Russell) and ordinary languagephilosophy (OLP, represented by Strawson) offer opposed solutions to this problem, and Wittgenstein combines the advantages of both. I argue that, given Kuusela’s characterisation of OLP, Strawson was not an OLP’er. I suggest that, (...) instead of seeing ILP and OLP as opposed to one another, it is better to regard OLP as an extension of ILP. (shrink)
For fifty years, Willard Van Orman Quine's books and articles have stimulated intense debate in the fields of logic and the philosophy of language. Many scholars in fact, regard Quine as the greatest living English-speaking philosopher; yet his views remain widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. This book provides the first major explication and defense of Quine's systematic philosophy and is ideally suited for use as a required or supplementary text in a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses (...) in philosophy and linguistics.The book explores the far-reaching implications of Quine's views on language for contemporary analytic philosophy. It is unique in providing a lucid and rich description and reconstruction of the historical context from which Quine's work grew, focusing in particular on the role that Russell and Wittgenstein played in shaping the problems inherited by Quine. It presents Quine's difficult later views in an accessible fashion, bringing out as no other study has the very radical nature of his position. One of the book's highlights is its careful examination and assessment of Tarski's theory of truth as it relates to the traditions of Russell and Wittgenstein and to Quine's own philosophy.George D. Romanos took his Ph.D. in philosophy under George D. W. Berry and Paul T. Sagal at Boston University. This book grew out of his dissertation with the active criticism and support of Quine himself. (shrink)
It is a near truism of philosophy of language that sentences are prior to words--that they are the only things that fundamentally have meaning. Robert's Stainton's study interrogates this idea, drawing on a wide body of evidence to argue that speakers can and do use mere words, not sentences, to communicate complex thoughts.
Taking a cue from remarks Thomas Kuhn makes in 1990 about the historical turn in philosophy of science, I examine the history of history and philosophy of science within parts of the British philosophical context in the 1950s and early 1960s. During this time, ordinary languagephilosophy's influence was at its peak. I argue that the ordinary language philosophers' methodological recommendation to analyze actual linguistic practice influences several prominent criticisms of the deductive-nomological model of scientific (...) explanation and that these criticisms relate to the historical turn in philosophy of science. To show these connections, I primarily examine the work of Stephen Toulmin, who taught at Oxford from 1949 to 1954, and Michael Scriven, who completed a dissertation on explanation under Gilbert Ryle and R.B. Braithwaite in 1956. I also consider Mary Hesse's appeal to an ordinary language-influenced account of meaning in her account of the role of models and analogies in scientific reasoning, and W.H. Watson's Wittgensteinian philosophy of science, an early influence on Toulmin. I think there are two upshots to my historical sketch. First, it fills out details of the move away from logical positivism to more historical- and practice-focused philosophies of science. Second, questions about linguistic meaning and the proper targets and aims of philosophical analysis are part and parcel of the historical turn, as well as its reception. Looking at the philosophical background during which so-called linguistic philosophers also had a hand in bringing these questions to prominence helps us understand why. (shrink)
Contributed papers presented at the Three Day National Seminar on 'Indian and Western Philosophy of Language' held at Varanasi from February 10-12th, 2011 by IGNCA in collaboration with Department of Vyākaraṇa, Sanskrit Vidya Dharmavijnana Sankaya, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
This book combines a historical and philosophical study of Russell's theory of descriptions. It defends, develops, and extends the theory as a contribution to natural language semantics while also arguing for a reassessment of the importance of linguistic inquiry to Russell's philosophical project.
From the end of the Enlightenment to the middle of the twentieth century philosophy took fascinating and controversial paths whose relevance to contemporary post-modernist thought is becoming increasingly clear. This volume traces the English-language side of the period, while also taking into account those continental thinkers who deeply influenced twentieth-century English-languagephilosophy. The story begins with Reid, Coleridge, and Bentham - who set the agenda for much that followed - and continues with a portrait of the (...) nineteenth century's greatest British philosopher, John Stuart Mill. It then surveys the cross-currents of thought at the end of the century, including American pragmatism, a movement never more influential than now. Finally, it assesses two phases of what John Skorupski calls `analytic modernism' - the revolution against the idealism of Moore and Russell, and the Viennese sequel whose project was to show that philosophy consists of pseudo-problems. (shrink)
The work of the late Paul Grice (1913–1988) exerts a powerful influence on the way philosophers, linguists, and cognitive scientists think about meaning and communication. With respect to a particular sentence φ and an “utterer” U, Grice stressed the philosophical importance of separating (i) what φ means, (ii) what U said on a given occasion by uttering φ, and (iii) what U meant by uttering φ on that occasion. Second, he provided systematic attempts to say precisely what meaning is by (...) providing a series of more refined analyses of utterer’s meaning, sentence meaning, and what is said. Third, Grice produced an account of how it is possible for what U says and what U means to diverge. Fourth, by characterizing a philosophically important distinction between the “genuinely semantic” and “merely pragmatic” implications of a statement, Grice clarified the relationship between classical logic and the semantics of natural language. Fifth, he provided some much needed philosophical ventilation by deploying his notion of “implicature” to devastating effect against certain overzealous strains of “Ordinary LanguagePhilosophy,” without himself abandoning the view that philosophy must pay attention to the nuances of ordinary talk. Sixth, Grice undercut some of the most influential arguments for a philosophically significant notion of “presupposition.” Today, Grice’s work lies at the center of research on the semantics-pragmatics distinction and shapes much discussion of the relationship between language and mind. In a nutshell, Grice has forced philosophers and linguists to think very carefully about the sorts of facts a semantic theory is supposed to account for and to reflect upon the most central theoretical notions, notions that otherwise might be taken for granted or employed without due care and attention. To be sure, Grice’s own positive proposals have their weaknesses; but in the light of his work any theory of meaning that is to be taken at all seriously must now draw a sharp line between genuinely semantic facts and facts pertaining to the nature of human interaction.. (shrink)
From the end of the Enlightenment to the middle of the twentieth century philosophy took fascinating and controversial paths whose relevance to contemporary post-modernist thought is becoming ever clearer. This volume traces the English-language side of the period, while also taking into account those continental thinkers who deeply influenced twentieth-century, English-languagephilosophy. The story begins with Reid, Coleridge, and Bentham--who set the agenda for much that followed--and continues with a portrait of the nineteenth century's greatest British (...) philosopher, John Stuart Mill. It then surveys the cross-currents of thought at the end of the century, including American pragmatism, a movement never more influential than now. Finally it assesses two phases of what Skorupski calls "analytic modernism"--the revolution against idealism of Moore and Russell, and the Viennese sequel whose project was to show that philosophy consists of pseudo-problems. (shrink)
Logicism and the Philosophy of Language brings together the core works by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell on logic and language. In their separate efforts to clarify mathematics through the use of logic in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Frege and Russell both recognized the need for rigorous and systematic semantic analysis of language. It was their turn to this style of analysis that would establish the philosophy of language as an autonomous (...) area of inquiry. This anthology gathers together these foundational writings, and frames them with an extensive historical introduction. This is a collection for anyone interested in questions about truth, meaning, reference, and logic, and in the application of formal analysis to these concepts. (shrink)
In this paper I return to one of the central points of contention in the renowned debate between John Searle and Jacques Derrida with the aim of rethinking the role of success and the place of failure in communication. What is the philosophical significance of Austin's decision to exclude from his investigation (in How to Do Things with Words) certain utterances that cannot qualify as successful? Examining the conflicting ways in which Searle and Derrida understand and respond to Austin, I (...) try to flesh out Derrida's call to grant failure (or the negative) the important place it deserves in our understanding of speech. Yet, whereas for Derrida, the call to recognize failure as an internal and positive condition ultimately leads to a structural – albeit a deconstructive – critique of language's conditions of possibility, I focus instead on the implications which this insight may have for our understanding of the actuality of language. Consequently, I argue that while Derrida's critique subverts the hegemony of success, it ironically remains, like Searle, distant from and external to the actual reverberation of spoken language. (shrink)
This books delineates the seismic shifts of the twentieth century humanities by way of a close examination of the dynamic landscape of modern language, criticism and philosophy. In this manner, it argues that both philosophy and literary criticism have dovetailed in the twenty-first century. Starting out as a survey of literary criticism in its broadest terms, later chapters - which are more expository - assess recent movements within modern literary theory. These are located with respect to the (...) post-Russell and Fregean “linguistic turn” in philosophy. Designed for specialists and non-specialists alike; philosophers, literary critics and even students of the modern critical tradition, the argument takes a novel stance towards modern criticism, language and philosophy, arguing for a return to a more formalist and rhetorical approach to literary criticism, while taking care not to indulge too many “political pathologies” when engaging with texts. (shrink)
Modernist Fiction and Vagueness marries the artistic and philosophical versions of vagueness, linking the development of literary modernism to changes in philosophy. This book argues that the problem of vagueness - language's unavoidable imprecision - led to transformations in both fiction and philosophy in the early twentieth century. Both twentieth-century philosophers and their literary counterparts were fascinated by the vagueness of words and the dream of creating a perfectly precise language. Building on recent interest in the (...) connections between analytic philosophy, pragmatism, and modern literature, Modernist Fiction and Vagueness demonstrates that vagueness should be read not as an artistic problem but as a defining quality of modernist fiction. (shrink)
Abstract Artificial languagephilosophy (also called ‘ideal languagephilosophy’) is the position that philosophical problems are best solved or dissolved through a reform of language. Its underlying methodology—the development of languages for specific purposes—leads to a conventionalist view of language in general and of concepts in particular. I argue that many philosophical practices can be reinterpreted as applications of artificial languagephilosophy. In addition, many factually occurring interrelations between the sciences and (...)philosophy of science are justified and clarified by the assumption of an artificial language methodology. (shrink)
In this chapter, the author offers a selective critical history in which he traces the difference between the tendency which Michael Dummett represents and the philosophers among whom Timothy Williamson is naturally placed to a difference in metaphysics which has much longer roots. He suggests that the ultimate source of the kind of role Dummett gives to thought is Hume's skeptical view of necessity, with its famous consequences for metaphysics. The philosophy of language is the key to the (...) most fundamental philosophy. The author argues that the ordinary language tradition had its origins, at least, in anti‐realism about modality, and continued throughout its history to take an attitude to philosophy in general, and metaphysics in particular, which is hard to justify without that anti‐realism ‐ even if it is characteristic of the philosophers in this tradition that they did not generally attempt to justify it. (shrink)
1. In “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,” Sellars argues that the notion of “self-authenticating nonverbal episodes” that would provide a foundation for empirical knowledge is a myth; nothing merely causal, not already in conceptual shape, could possibly play the justificatory role required of such a foundation. Rorty takes Quine, in “Two Dogmas,” to make the complementary point that the notion of analytic claims true by virtue of meaning, of self-authenticating verbal episodes that might provide a foundation for another (...) sort for knowledge, is again a myth. A third moment in the dismantling of the myth of a foundation—this time for the contentfulness of our thoughts rather than for the truth of our beliefs—is due to Rorty himself. As he argues in “Realism and Reference”, the notion of reference as a nonintentional or “external” word-world relation that would ground our thoughts’ representational bearing on things, and so explain how thoughts can so much as purport to be true, again involves illicit appeal to the idea that independent of what we take it as an object can have cognitive significance. An external relation of reference cannot serve as the unmoved mover of the contentfulness or aboutness of thought. Nor, if Quine is right about the breakdown of the analytic/synthetic distinction, can meanings or word-word relations play this role. (shrink)
"Eco wittily and enchantingly develops themes often touched on in his previous works, but he delves deeper into their complex nature... this collection can be read with pleasure by those unversed in semiotic theory." —Times Literary Supplement.
Current understanding of the nature of language owes much to two authors: Noam Chomsky and the later Wittgenstein. What is interesting is that the conceptions of language proposed by each appear to conflict. The key question is: what is it to understand a language? In these terms, the internalist/individualist view of linguistic understanding which Chomsky has consistently advocated throughout his career appears to flatly contradict the later Wittgenstein's externalist account of linguistic understanding . In short, the relation (...) between these two conceptions is not well-understood. 2 The aim of this paper is to establish some rapprochement along the following lines: philosophy of language may be the richer for what it can learn from empirical linguistics but that area of philosophy remains the context within which empirical linguistics derives its significance. (shrink)
J.L. Austin is regarded as having an especially acute ear for fine distinctions of meaning overlooked by other philosophers. Austin employs an informal experimental approach to gathering evidence in support of these fine distinctions in meaning, an approach that has become a standard technique for investigating meaning in both philosophy and linguistics. In this paper, we subject Austin's methods to formal experimental investigation. His methods produce mixed results: We find support for his most famous distinction, drawn on the basis (...) of his `donkey stories', that `mistake' and `accident' apply to different cases, but not for some of his other attempts to distinguish the meaning of philosophically significant terms (such as `intentionally' and `deliberately'). We critically examine the methodology of informal experiments employed in ordinary languagephilosophy and much of contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics, and discuss the role that experimenter bias can play in influencing judgments about informal and formal linguistic experiments. (shrink)
The label ‘ordinary languagephilosophy’ was often used by the enemies than by the alleged practitioners of what it was intended to designate. It was supposed to designate a certain kind of philosophy that flourished, mainly in Britain and therein mainly in Oxford roughly after 1945. Early analytic philosophy was associated with logical positivism. According to von Wright, the Tractatus made Wittgenstein one of the 'spiritual fathers' of logical positivism. 'Sophistry and illusion' also summed up the (...) positivist attitude toward the metaphysics that they saw as being practiced largely in Continental Europe in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From common roots in Kant's writings one sees philosophy on the Continent proceed in one direction while in Britain proceed in quite another. The question of the business of philosophy, and its relationship to the business of science are matters of deep importance to the academic and intellectual life of the community. (shrink)
The domain of Islamic thought and intellectual history boasts an important body of studies relevant to the Arabic philosophy of language, as well as a growing interest in Islamicate argumentation theory and practice. There remains, however, a dearth of volumes which pool research from both areas and examine them together. Filling this gap is more critical than ever. In our time, significant work is being conducted in argumentation theory, but little of it draws from, or relates to, the (...) rich i... (shrink)
KANT USED the metaphor of a Copernican revolution for that inversion according to which our philosophic principles are to be drawn from the character of the knower—from the faculties of the human mind—rather than from the object to be known. We might say that there may be a further such inversion, a second Copernican Revolution in philosophy, so to speak. By this turn, both the things to be known and the determinations of the knower might be thought to revolve (...) around language. From this stance, we may be led to seek our philosophic principles in our habitual or our necessary modes of expression. Linguistic capacities would thus become the sieve—or the veil, or the limiting distortion—through which, or by means of which, all else is determined. Among them will be found reality and such objects of knowledge as may be formulated in scientific fashion. And also such psychic powers and conceptual patterns as are susceptible to human communication. Were we to undertake such a succeeding revolution, language itself would become the center around which must turn both our real world and our minds themselves. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the role of exact symmetries in theories of physics, working throughout with the example of gravitation set in Newtonian spacetime. First, I spend some time setting up a means of thinking about symmetries in this context; second, I consider arguments from the seeming undetectability of absolute velocities to an anti-realism about velocities; and finally, I claim that the structure of the theory licences us to interpret models which differ only with regards to the absolute velocities (...) of objects as depicting the same physical state of affairs. In defending this last claim, I consider how ideas and resources from the philosophy of language may usefully be brought to bear on this topic. (shrink)
The ‘Ordinary Language’ philosophy of the early 20th century is widely thought to have failed. It is identified with the broader so-called ‘linguistic turn’, a common criticism of which is captured by Devitt and Sterelny (1999), who quip: “When the naturalistic philosopher points his finger at reality, the linguistic philosopher discusses the finger.” (p 280) The implication is that according to ‘linguistic’ philosophy, we are not to study reality or truth or morality etc, but the meaning of (...) the words ‘reality’, ‘truth’, ‘morality’ etc. Ordinary Languagephilosophy has fallen so thoroughly into disrepute because it is supposed to advocate that not only are we to study words and meanings rather than the phenomena themselves (which is apparently bad enough), but we must restrict that study to words and meanings as they occur in the language used by the ordinary speaker. A number of preposterous corollaries have been taken to follow from this view. Most seriously, perhaps, and irritatingly, is that any theory which contains ‘non-ordinary’ uses of expressions is thereby ‘meaningless’ or simply false – which is clearly absurd. In this paper I show that this is a completely inaccurate picture of Ordinary Languagephilosophy. My aim is to correct these persistent misinterpretations, and make possible a more sensible reassessment of the philosophy. (shrink)
The philosophers and scholars of the Hellenistic world laid the foundations upon which the Western tradition based analytical grammar, linguistics, philosophy of language, and other disciplines probing the nature and origin of human communication. Building on the pioneering work of Plato and Aristotle, these thinkers developed a wide range of theories about the nature and origin of language which reflected broader philosophical commitments. In this collection of nine essays, a team of distinguished scholars examines the philosophies of (...)language developed by, among others, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, the Stoics, and Lucretius. They probe the early thinkers' philosophical adequacy and their impact on later theorists. With discussions ranging from the Stoics on the origin of language to the theories of language in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the collection will be of interest to students of philosophy and of language in the classical period and beyond. (shrink)