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Meaning and rule following


Glock, Hans-Johann (2015). Meaning and rule following. In: Wright, James D. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Elsevier, 841-849.

Abstract

According to a venerable tradition in philosophy and linguistics, expressions have meaning through being subject to conventions or rules. This claim has become a central topic of contemporary philosophy of language and mind in the wake of Wittgenstein and Kripke, largely because the normativity of meaning is regarded as a serious challenge to naturalism. One reaction to this challenge is to deny that the normativity of meaning is genuine. While there are ‘semantic principles’ specifying conditions for the correct application of expressions, these are either not genuinely normative or they are not in fact constitutive of meaning. But this dilemma can be defused if one distinguishes different dimensions of semantic normativity and pays attention to different types of mistakes that can afflict linguistic behavior. In particular, one needs to keep apart norms of truth and norms of meaning, regulative, and constitutive rules, and to appreciate the normative dimensions of the notion of correctness. The final section discusses the role of communally shared rules or conventions for language, in particular the age-old problem of circularity: how could such conventions be essential to language, given that the latter appears prerequisite for establishing and communicating conventions in the first place

Abstract

According to a venerable tradition in philosophy and linguistics, expressions have meaning through being subject to conventions or rules. This claim has become a central topic of contemporary philosophy of language and mind in the wake of Wittgenstein and Kripke, largely because the normativity of meaning is regarded as a serious challenge to naturalism. One reaction to this challenge is to deny that the normativity of meaning is genuine. While there are ‘semantic principles’ specifying conditions for the correct application of expressions, these are either not genuinely normative or they are not in fact constitutive of meaning. But this dilemma can be defused if one distinguishes different dimensions of semantic normativity and pays attention to different types of mistakes that can afflict linguistic behavior. In particular, one needs to keep apart norms of truth and norms of meaning, regulative, and constitutive rules, and to appreciate the normative dimensions of the notion of correctness. The final section discusses the role of communally shared rules or conventions for language, in particular the age-old problem of circularity: how could such conventions be essential to language, given that the latter appears prerequisite for establishing and communicating conventions in the first place

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:17 Dec 2015 14:03
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 16:04
Publisher:Elsevier
ISBN:978-0-08-097087-5
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.63049-0
Related URLs:http://www.recherche-portal.ch/ZAD:default_scope:ebi01_prod010515530 (Library Catalogue)

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