The Pseudo-Problem of Error

Paul Horwich

in Reflections on Meaning

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780199251247
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603983 | DOI:
 The Pseudo-Problem of Error

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It is widely held, following Kripke, that no theory of ‘meaning as dispositions of use’ could accommodate the relationship between meaning and truth, e.g., that if a word means DOG then it is true of all dogs and only of dogs. This chapter makes explicit and criticizes the assumptions on which Kripke’s position is founded. First, that in order for the meaning of a given word (e.g., dog) to be constituted by its having a given use, we would have to be able to read off (and hence give an explanation of) the word’s extension on the basis of that use. Second, for this to be possible, there would have to be some way of weeding out those uses that are errors (i.e., cases in which the word is applied to things other than dogs). It is argued that these assumptions are incorrect, since they are affiliated with an anti-deflationary conception of truth.

Keywords: Kripke; meaning; dispositions; use; read off; explanation; errors; deflationary

Chapter.  7114 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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