Realist Semantics and Content‐Ascription

Colin McGinn

in Knowledge and Reality

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251582
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598012 | DOI:
 Realist Semantics and Content‐Ascription

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McGinn's target is again Dummettian anti‐realism; this time he argues that Dummett's criticism of realist semantics rests on a questionable theory of content‐ascription. McGinn develops four Twin Earth cases (one of which prefigures Putnam's ‘brain in a vat’) designed to show that, contra Dummett, content is not determined by use (where ‘use’ is understood as ‘the exercise of recognitional capacities in respect of assertability conditions’). But if use does not exhaust content, McGinn argues, then from the fact that verification‐transcendent truth conditions are not present in linguistic use, it does not follow that reality cannot be represented in our sentences.

Keywords: anti‐realism; brain in a vat; content‐ascription; Dummett; linguistic use; meaning; mental content; propositional attitudes; Putnam; realism; recognitional capacity; Twin Earth

Chapter.  10193 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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