I elaborate and defend the inconsistency view on vagueness I have earlier argued for in my (2002) and (forthcoming). In rough outline, the view is that the sorites paradox arises because tolerance principles, despite their inconsistency, are meaning-constitutive for vague expressions. Toward the end of the paper I discuss other inconsistency views on vagueness that have been proposed, and compare them to the view I favor.
Several philosophers, both in Buddhist and Western philosophy, claim that the self does not exist. The no-self view may, at first glance, appear to be a reason to believe that life is meaningless. In the present article, I argue indirectly in favor of the no-self view by showing that it does not entail that life is meaningless. I then examine Buddhism and argue, further, that the no-self view may even be construed as partially grounding an account of (...) the meaning of life. (shrink)
In this essay, I argue that the deflationary view of truth is inconsistent with Davidson's theory of meaning. I take deflationism to consist of two basic theses: the linguistic thesis that truth talk is always expressive and never explanatory, and the metaphysical thesis that truth is not a property. Since Davidson construes meaning in terms of truth-conditions, it appears that Davidson regards truth talk as explanatory, and truth as a property. Michael Williams argues otherwise, suggesting that Davidson's theory of (...) meaning can be understood in terms of his theory of radical interpretation, and that radical interpretation does not require a notion of truth richer than the deflationist allows. I argue that at the level of the T-sentences Davidson's theory of meaning entails (T-sentences yielded through the practice of radical interpretation), a non-deflationary notion of truth is indeed required. This is because, first, for Davidson, to grasp the meaning of a sentence is to grasp the T-sentence associated with it, and the T-sentence predicates the property truth of that sentencesecond, because it does so, in T-sentences "true" is explanatory, not merely expressive. I then consider the objection that T-sentences can be understood in terms of a norm of assertion, rather in terms of "true" as predicating a property of sentences, and I respond that the objection confuses pragmatic issues with semantic issues. (shrink)
This paper aims to show the logical consistency between the subjective and the intersubjective constitution of meaning in Alfred Schutz by revealing his insight into the dynamic character of reality. In reconstructing what is implied by the proposition “the problem of meaning is a time problem,” this paper reveals that the interrelationship between the past and the present, namely “becoming,” is fundamental to meaning-constitution. By critically introducing the Bergsonian view of the tension between the durée and its symbolization, Schutz (...) thematizes our meaningful reality in the fluidity. From this perspective, the intersubjective world is characterized as a continuous dynamic reality taken for granted by the actors. While subjectivity, as a function of articulating experiences in becoming, is a condition of the intersubjective world, the intersubjective process enables the taken-for-grantedness of subjective reality. Schutzian phenomenology may lead to a theory of the complexity and uncertainty of social reality. (shrink)
This study focuses on the experimental and philosophical analysis of the meaning of life in death situation, according to Wittgenstein’s way of life and sayings during the war. The method of extraction and analysis of information is grounded theory. For this purpose, Wittgenstein’s writings such as his letters and memories, and other’s texts about his life and his internal moods were analyzed. After analyzing the collected information and categorizing them in frames of open codes, axial codes, etc. we recognized that (...) Wittgenstein's point of view in death situation was supernatural God-centered. By reading Tolstoy gospel and Dostoyevsky's works, Wittgenstein has reached a kind of religious awakening in that period of his life. But before and after the war period he had a naturalistic point of view toward the meaning of life, in which moral values are in the core. (shrink)
The topic of this paper is whether there is metaphysical vagueness. It is shown that it is important to distinguish between the general phenomenon of indeterminacy and the more narrow phenomenon of vagueness. Relatedly, it is important to distinguish between metaphysical indeterminacy and metaphysical vagueness. One can wish to allow metaphysical indeterminacy but rule out metaphysical vagueness. As is discussed in the paper, central argument against metaphysical vagueness, like those of Gareth Evans and Mark Sainsbury, would if successful rule out (...) metaphysical indeterminacy. One way to argue specifically against the possibility of metaphysical vagueness might be thought to be to argue for a specific theory of the nature of vagueness according to which vagueness is a semantic phenomenon. But it is shown that there are complications also pertaining to arguments with that structure. Toward the end of the paper, I discuss Trenton Merricks’ well-known argument against a semantic view on vagueness and for a metaphysical view. (shrink)
According to Susan Wolf's hybrid view about meaning in life, a life is meaningful in virtue of subjective attraction to objectively valuable pursuits. Recently, several philosophers have presented counterexamples to the subjective element in Wolf's view. We argue that these examples are not clearly successful and present a modified version which is even stronger in the face of them. Finally, we offer some positive reasons for accepting a subjective condition on a meaningful life.
According to the pure part-life view the meaning in our lives is always borne by particular parts of our lives. The aim of this paper is to show that Thaddeus Metz’s rejection of this view is too quick. Given that meaning is a value that often depends on relational rather than intrinsic properties a pure part-life view can accommodate many of the intuitions that move Metz towards a mixed view. According to this mixed view some (...) meaning is borne by parts of our lives and some by our lives as a whole. The arguments in this paper suggest, however, that even if a pure part-life view is to be rejected, a mixed view that incorporates a whole-life aspect is not going to be any more plausible. (shrink)
A number of theorists hold that literal, linguistic meaning is determined by the cognitive mechanism that underpins semantic competence. Borg and Larson and Segal defend a version of the view on which semantic competence is underpinned by the cognition of a truth-conditional semantic theory—a semantic theory which is true. Let us call this view the “cognitivist account of meaning”. In this paper, I discuss a surprisingly serious difficulty that the cognitivist account of meaning faces in light of the (...) liar paradox. I raise an argument to the effect that, in light of linguistic evidence concerning the liar paradox, the cognised semantic theory is inconsistent. This contradicts the cognitivist account. I consider a range of possible responses to the difficulty, raising problems for each. The liar paradox poses a serious difficulty to the cognitivist account of meaning, and it is unclear whether the difficulty can be resolved. (shrink)
Speakers’ intuitive judgements about meaning provide important data for many debates in philosophy of language and pragmatics, including contextualism vs. relativism in semantics; ‘faultless’ disagreement; the limits of truth-conditional semantics; vagueness; and the status of figurative utterances. Is the use of speakers intuitive judgments about meaning justified? Michael Devitt has argued that their use in philosophy of language is problematic because they are fallible empirical judgements about language that reflect speakers’ folk theories about meaning rather than meaning itself. In this (...) paper I respond to Devitt’s criticism and propose a positive account explaining the nature and evidential status of such judgements. I argue that speakers’ intuitive judgements about meanings of utterances provide valuable evidence for various debates in philosophy of language because they are importantly connected to the linguistic performance of speakers. Arguably, the connection is reliable due to a constant monitoring of the interpretations ascribed to linguistic utterances. I call this the voice of performance view. My account restores prominence to speakers’ intuitive judgements about meaning while avoiding Devitt’s worries. (shrink)
Thomas Nagel contends that the actual philosophical problem in the meaning of life is the independent world we live in, and only requires a self-transcendent being who glimpses an independent world. I argue that Nagel is mistaken to think that self-transcendence evokes the same anxiety for humans living in the world of Dante as Darwin. Nagel’s view from nowhere is rather a modem version of the world. Secondly, while I concede that there is a common anxiety felt by self-transcendence (...) in glimpsing an independent objective world, we also view that world through a set of beliefs that conditions how we see that world. (shrink)
I discuss some problems faced by the meaning‐inconsistency view on the liar and sorites paradoxes which I have elsewhere defended. Most of the discussion is devoted to the question of what a defender of the meaning‐inconsistency view should say about semantic competence.
Contemporary debate about religion seems to be going nowhere. Atheists persist with their arguments, many plausible and some unanswerable, but these make no impact on religious believers. Defenders of religion find atheists equally unwilling to cede ground. The Meaning of Belief offers a way out of this stalemate.
The discussion between Searle and the Churchlands over whether or not symbolmanipulating computers generate semantics will be confronted both with the rulesceptical considerations of Kripke/wittgenstein and with Wittgenstein's privatelanguage argument in order to show that the discussion focuses on the wrong place: meaning does not emerge in the brain. That a symbol means something should rather be conceived as a social fact, depending on a mutual imputation of linguistic competence of the participants of a linguistic practice to one another. The (...) alternative picture will finally be applied to small children, animals, and computers as well. (shrink)
Advocates of the pictorial theory of meaning claimed that the meaning of a word is a mental picture and that lexical semantic competence --i.e. knowledge of word meaning -- is closely connected to visual imagery. As a philosophical theory of meaning, the pictorial theory was discredited in the twentieth century. Nevertheless, there is evidence that visual imagery -- the generation of visual mental images -- does play a role in semantic processing and is not just a possible side effect of (...) it. The aim of this article is to critically assess the neuroscientific status of the pictorial theory of meaning as a hypothesis about the neurocognitive underpinnings of lexical semantic competence. I will assess relevant neuroimaging, behavioural, and patient data, as well as data from congenital blindness studies. (shrink)
What makes our utterances mean what they do? In this work I formulate and justify a structural constraint on possible answers to this key question in the philosophy of language, and I show that accepting this constraint leads naturally to the adoption of an algebraic formalization of truth-theoretic semantics. I develop such a formalization, and show that applying algebraic methodology to the theory of meaning yields important insights into the nature of language. ;The constraint I propose is, roughly, this: the (...) meaning of an utterance of a natural language sentence is derived from the place of that sentence within a system that includes other sentences, and is structured in virtue of primitive semantic facts about complete sentences. This constraint calls for a formal semantics program where the meaning of natural language sentences is represented by an appropriate assignment of the elements of an algebraic structure to sentences, an assignment that represents facts concerning complete sentences. I call the above constraint 'The Algebraic Thesis', and the corresponding formal semantics program 'Algebraic Semantics.' ;I introduce AT by carving it out of the holistic views of language of Quine and Davidson, and I show that it is independent of other important features of these philosophers' views. I then argue for AT, taking into account recent work by Brandom, Dummett, Fodor and Lepore, Gaifman and Perry. In developing Algebraic Semantics I present structures of two basic types: Boolean algebras and cylindric algebras; these structures are construed in the context of AT in a novel way: they are treated as applying to classes of sentences as numbers apply to physical objects in measurement. Applying algebraic methodology to formal semantics and to the theory of meaning, I develop these results: ; An account of the semantics of necessity and possibility that avoids both Quine's dismissal of these notions and their reduction by David Lewis to quantification over possible worlds; ; The application of the model-theoretic notion of expansion to capture the process of our learning progressively more of the meaning of expressions in our first languages. (shrink)
In order to illustrate the nature of the indeterminacy of meaning, Donald Davidson sometimes compares it to the fact that we can measure length or temperature on different scales. In the following paper I try to explain first why we are supposed to expect such an analogy, given the semantics of the word meaning and of the word length or temperature. In the second part I examine how close the analogy is by distinguishing different forms of indeterminacy of meaning (viz., (...) the indeterminacy of reference and the indeterminacy of truth) and ask whether both forms have an equivalent in a theory of measurement. I shall conclude that this is indeed the case. (shrink)
The purpose of the present paper is to reply to a misleading paper by M. Sachs entitled “Einstein's later view of the Twin Paradox” (TP) (Found. Phys. 15, 977 (1985)). There, by selecting some passages from Einstein's papers, he tried to convince the reader that Einstein changed his mind regarding the asymmetric aging of the twins on different motions. Also Sachs insinuates that he presented several years ago “convincing mathematical arguments” proving that the theory of relativity does not predict (...) asymmetrical aging in the TP. Here we give a definitive treatment to the clocks problem showing that Sachs' “convincing mathematical arguments” are non sequitur. Also, by properly quoting Einstein, we show that his later view of the TP coincides with the one derived from the rigorous theory of time developed in this paper. (shrink)
What is the meaning of “meaning”, hermeneutically seen? How does the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer relate to the different types of meaning that are at hand in other branches of philosophy, such as sentence meaning within analytic philosophy, uttered meaning within speech acts theory and the communicative/dialogical meaning of formal/transcendental pragmatics? The comprehensive framework of Gadamer’s hermeneutics forms the horizon of understanding of this paper, and of specific interest is how these different types of meaning relate to the hermeneutic (...) framework. Can a hermeneutical sense of meaning be elaborated in contrast to these different senses of meaning? Or, can these different types of meaning, in a certain sense, also be seen as compatible with the wider hermeneutical framework of meaning? (shrink)
Medizinethische Untersuchungen zum Thema Neuroenhancement (NE) wenden sich oft der Frage zu, inwiefern der Einzelne wie auch die Allgemeinheit durch NE zu Schaden kommen können. Gerechtigkeitsprobleme, ein befürchteter Wandel des Menschenbildes oder die Gefahr einer unerwünschten, schleichenden Veränderung der Gesellschaft werden problematisiert. Bezüglich individueller Risiken bleibt es aufgrund des vermeintlichen Zugewinns an Selbstbestimmung und Eigenverantwortung gerne beim Verweis auf die subjektive Kosten-Nutzen-Abwägung. Innerhalb der NE-Debatte gibt es bisher kaum Arbeiten, die die Aspekte der Motivation für die Nutzung von NE aus (...) tiefenpsychologischer Perspektive beleuchten. Das Ziel der vorliegenden Arbeit ist es, diese Aspekte zu analysieren. Die Arbeit soll einen Beitrag zu einem neuen Blickwinkel auf Selbstbestimmung und subjektive Einschätzung der Vor- und Nachteile von NE leisten. Es werden psychologische Aspekte thematisiert, welche die im Kontext von NE übliche Annahme, dass Konsumenten zur Selbstverantwortung fähig seien, problematisch erscheinen lassen, da sie die Wahrnehmung dieser Verantwortung erschweren oder gar unmöglich machen können. In diesem Zusammenhang wollen wir versuchen, für die psychologischen Gefahren und Folgen von NE zu sensibilisieren. Es wird beispielsweise darüber diskutiert, inwiefern der Gebrauch von NE-Technologien eine Persönlichkeit nachhaltig prägen und gerade deshalb das Erleben von Selbstwirksamkeit beeinträchtigen kann. Dies stellt die für die liberale Position zentrale Prämisse, wonach Individuen sich frei und vernünftig entscheiden können, infrage. (shrink)
El objetivo de este trabajo es reconsiderar el punto de vista defendido por los pensadores que se pueden adscribir al famoso ‘Círculo de Viena’ sobre el significado y, especialmente, sobre los enunciados asignificativos. Para ello, procedemos usando la típica forma científica, heredera de la tradición del Círculo, de medir empíricamente los conceptos adquiridos. Además, proporcionamos algunas notas históricas, así como algunas reflexiones sobre el pensamiento de Karl Menger sobre la carencia de una geometría adecuada para el micromundo.
Many contemporary historians and philosophers are dissatisfied both with the accounts traditional analytic philosophers have given of the epistemological dimensions of historical studies and also with the ways many continental philosophers more recently have brushed aside the need for any such accounts. Yet no one has yet proposed a unified research program that could serve as the central focus for a better epistemologically-oriented approach. Such a research program would not only address epistemological problems from a perspective that would be of (...) methodological interest to historians but would also be directly responsive to fundamental motivations people have for caring about historical studies in the first place. The main purpose of this review essay is to sketch and then illustrate the main outlines of such a research program.Basic to this research program is the recognition that the overwhelmingly central epistemological complication that arises in the attempt to say what happened in the past and what it means that it happened is that there are always competing ways to interpret evidence. The problem is to discover which among these competing interpretations is best, which involves, among other things, discovering which among them is most likely to be true. Strategies are suggested for solving this problem, which, at the limit, would result in the articulation of generally applicable criteria for assessing competing historical interpretations. (shrink)
ZusammenfassungMedizinethische Untersuchungen zum Thema Neuroenhancement wenden sich oft der Frage zu, inwiefern der Einzelne wie auch die Allgemeinheit durch NE zu Schaden kommen können. Gerechtigkeitsprobleme, ein befürchteter Wandel des Menschenbildes oder die Gefahr einer unerwünschten, schleichenden Veränderung der Gesellschaft werden problematisiert. Bezüglich individueller Risiken bleibt es aufgrund des vermeintlichen Zugewinns an Selbstbestimmung und Eigenverantwortung gerne beim Verweis auf die subjektive Kosten-Nutzen-Abwägung. Innerhalb der NE-Debatte gibt es bisher kaum Arbeiten, die die Aspekte der Motivation für die Nutzung von NE aus tiefenpsychologischer (...) Perspektive beleuchten. Das Ziel der vorliegenden Arbeit ist es, diese Aspekte zu analysieren. Die Arbeit soll einen Beitrag zu einem neuen Blickwinkel auf Selbstbestimmung und subjektive Einschätzung der Vor- und Nachteile von NE leisten. Es werden psychologische Aspekte thematisiert, welche die im Kontext von NE übliche Annahme, dass Konsumenten zur Selbstverantwortung fähig seien, problematisch erscheinen lassen, da sie die Wahrnehmung dieser Verantwortung erschweren oder gar unmöglich machen können. In diesem Zusammenhang wollen wir versuchen, für die psychologischen Gefahren und Folgen von NE zu sensibilisieren. Es wird beispielsweise darüber diskutiert, inwiefern der Gebrauch von NE-Technologien eine Persönlichkeit nachhaltig prägen und gerade deshalb das Erleben von Selbstwirksamkeit beeinträchtigen kann. Dies stellt die für die liberale Position zentrale Prämisse, wonach Individuen sich frei und vernünftig entscheiden können, infrage. (shrink)
This is a slightly edited version of a talk given by Mrs Claire Rayner, a journalist and broadcaster, to a conference on human sexuality held under the auspices of the London Medical Group in the spring of this year. Mrs Rayner's lively presentation conveys the problems and anxieties which people face in this area, even in this so-called `permissive' age.