Chapter

What Is a Theory of Meaning? (I)

Michael Dummett

in The Seas of Language

Published in print February 1996 | ISBN: 9780198236214
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597350 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198236212.003.0001
What Is a Theory of Meaning? (I)

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The theory of meaning may either attempt to explain what it is to have the concepts expressible in a particular language (full‐blooded theory), or merely to associate concepts with words in that particular language (modest theory). A theory of meaning suggested by Davidson, according to which knowing the meaning of a sentence consists in the ability to produce a T‐schema for that sentence, is a modest theory. But such a theory will be either a translation manual (in which case it does not explain the knowledge of language), or will have to be construed holistically (in which case a systematic account of the mastery of language is impossible).

Keywords: Davidsonholism; meaning; Tarski; theory of meaning; truth

Chapter.  19447 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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