What does talk of meaning mean? All thinking consists in natural happenings in the brain. Talk of meaning though, has resisted interpretation in terms of. Meaning and Normativity. Allan Gibbard*. In the past dozen years, phrases like ” the normativity of meanin have swept into the philosophy of language. Meaning and Normativity, by AllanGibbard. Oxford: Oxford University Press, , xiv + pp. ISBN ‐0‐19‐‐4 hb £

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Request removal from index. In view of these relationships, an account of the concept of meaning must be accompanied by plausible accounts of the concepts of analyticity and synonymy.

Presumably we will want to give informational or teleosemantic accounts of the contents of these concepts, just as we do for purely perceptual representations, though the contents of learned concepts will require somewhat separate treatment. Examples like this show that we should see entailments running from means-statements to ought-statements as direct and immediate, and should therefore explain them by supposing that means-statements are fundamentally normative.

Meaning and Normativity – Hardcover – Allan Gibbard – Oxford University Press

Generalizing from this passage, Gibbard proposes that claims about meaning imply claims of obligation — more specifically, claims about what we ought to a,lan in response to queries, and claims to the effect that we ought to accept and reject sentences in various circumstances.

The “ought” is part of an instruction to the effect that the correspondence should be exploited in a certain way. Thus, for example, if a statement means something contradictory, it is clear that I ought not to accept it. Turning to the question of synonymy of individual words, Gibbard begins by borrowing an idea from Horwichpp. What about the importance of the former approach? Now Field himself seems to have thought that the concept of reference has a full share of empirical or factual meaning, and that it is possible to decide among these four hypotheses on the basis of factual considerations.

On Epistemic Conceptions of Meaning: The first half offers richly detailed accounts of word meaning, analyticity, synonymy, allann, truth, and truth conditions, and the second half focuses on normative expressions, gibbbard and extending Gibbard’s celebrated expressivist account of the meanings of those terms, and integrating the account with the general theory of meaning that is developed in earlier chapters. Reference, Truth, and Context 8.


I will wind up with a short inquiry into the relationships between Gibbard’s theory of meaning and naturalistic theories. Judgments of synonymy are explained as follows:. Because of these two departures, and others, Gibbard often speaks of “plans” rather than plans. Even if we accept this claim, however, we might wonder whether much can be gained by looking at expressions through a normative lens.

On his view, this is because the concept of reference is normative.

Allan Gibbard, Meaning and Normativity – PhilPapers

Naturalism seems to provide the default way of accommodating the causal powers of meanings. Gibbard embraces this responsibility with his characteristic energy and commitment to depth of treatment. Gibbard is at pains to explain and defend this expanded notion of planning. Classical, Early, and Medieval Poetry and Poets: Like the first argument, this one clearly deserves further development, but in its current form, I feel that it leaves opponents of the normativity thesis with a lot of logical room.

Gibbard Allan, Meaning and Normativity. Meanings do not have causal powers qua meanings. At various points he broadens this claim to apply to the representational contents of concepts and propositional attitudes. Still, they differ in the explanations they give.

Suppose that an evil demon would change his mind about wiping out the human race if I would just embrace a contradiction.

The result applies to itself: That is to say, he thinks of the foundational requirements governing perceptual terms as consisting in obligations to accept sentences like “That thing looks blue” when enjoying certain experiences, and obligations not to accept them otherwise, and he thinks of the requirements governing higher level terms as consisting in obligations to accept Carnap pairs — specifically, obligations to accept them in any evidential circumstance, and under all intelligible suppositions.

There are grounds for taking a somewhat different view. Oxford Scholarship Online This book is available as part of Oxford Scholarship Online – view abstracts and keywords at book and chapter level. I am somewhat inclined to side with Field, but instead of agitating for his position, I will suppose for the sake of argument that Gibbard is right in claiming that purely factual considerations fail to determine the choice of a hypothesis in this case and point out that it doesn’t follow that the commonsense concept of reference is normative.

Another departure from the commonsense conception is motivated by the fact that we make ought-judgments of various kinds about agents other than ourselves.


If we are to understand why divergences of mexning kinds have proved so hard to resolve, we must take them to be largely normative in character, involving different views as to what theories of meaning and what particular semantic hypotheses we ought to accept.

Accordingly, there is ground for worry that Gibbard’s theory is too meaningg — that it overemphasizes the role of propositional knowledge in fixing meanings.

All thinking consists in natural happenings in the brain. The last three chapters offer an account of them.

The latter task meanning complex and delicate, because being in the shoes of another agent may involve having beliefs or purposes that are not compatible with choosing the envisioned action. Expressivism has two prongs: It must be granted that the inference initially strikes us as valid.

In sum, it nomativity possible to explain the normativity of without supposing that it derives from meaning. Talk of meaning though, has resisted interpretation in terms of anything that is clearly natural, such as linguistic dispositions. According to Gibbard, then, apart from exceptions like logical words and expressions from our most fundamental perceptual vocabulary, the meanings of terms are constituted by norms enjoining acceptance of Carnap pairs in all evidential circumstances and under all intelligible suppositions.

Meaning and Normativity, by Allan Gibbard. Publications Pages Publications Pages. According to this combined theory, to judge that a sentence in my idiolect means that p is to form a plan to use the sentence in a certain way. Indeed, towards the end of the Preface pp.

The Impossible Mark Jago. Given that the two principles are both of fundamental physical importance, it appears that there are equally good grounds for saying that Newton’s concept referred to relativistic mass and for saying that it referred to proper mass.

He also offers an account of allaj Henry Jackman – manuscript. Sign in Create an account.

Meaning and Normativity Allan Gibbard. But I have some inclination to suppose that it actually abbreviates the following more complicated argument:.