Surveying the Terrain

Emma Borg

in Pursuing Meaning

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588374
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741487 | DOI:
Surveying the Terrain

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This chapter introduces and defines the approach of semantic minimalism and contrasts it with the opposing approaches of indexicalism, contextualism, semantic relativism, and occasionalism. It argues that if a theorist decides to move to one of these opposing positions on the grounds of what are known as ‘context-shifting arguments’ then they will ultimately be unable to resist a slide into a full-blown use-based approach to meaning (embodied here by Charles Travis’ occasionalism). For, if one takes the phenomenon thrown up by context-shifting arguments to be semantically relevant, then, it is argued, the middle-ground positions of indexicalism, contextualism and relativism turn out to be theoretically unstable

Keywords: semantic minimalism; indexicalism; contextualism; semantic relativism; occasionalism; context-shifting arguments; formal theories of meaning; use theories of meaning

Chapter.  20437 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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