Chapter

Meaning as Use

Paul Horwich

in Meaning

Published in print December 1998 | ISBN: 9780198238249
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597725 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019823824X.003.0003
 Meaning as Use

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It is proposed here that the meaning of each word, w, is constituted by its ‘basic acceptance property’—a property roughly of the form, ‘Our acceptance of such‐and‐such sentences containing w explains our overall use of it’. Seven arguments in favour of this idea are developed—the principal one (in light of constitution issues elsewhere in science) being that what engenders the meaning of a word will be the property that explains the symptoms of that meaning, which are the word's various uses. Objections to this position are then considered, on the basis of considerations of indeterminacy, determination of reference, holism, pragmatics, propositions, ambiguity, synonymy, definition, individualism, externalism, and the relation between language and thought.

Keywords: acceptance; ambiguity; constitution; externalism; holism; individualism; pragmatics; propositions; reference; thought; use

Chapter.  22307 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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