Article

Semantic Minimalism

Agustin Vicente and Fernando Martínez Manrique

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online November 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0155
Semantic Minimalism

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Semantic minimalism is primarily a position about the semantic content of sentences. It is defined by the thesis that sentences have a truth-conditional or fully propositional content mostly independent of contextual factors. It limits the contribution of context to the saturation of a narrow class of indexical expressions. Semantic minimalism thus has contextualism as its main (but not sole) opponent, contextualism being characterized by the thesis that the bearers of propositional content are utterances, not sentences, given that the semantic information carried by sentences fails to determine a truth-conditional content. Semantic minimalism is committed to an orthodox view on semantic compositionality, according to which, barring explicit indexicals, the content of a sentential expression is a function of the stable semantic values (literal meanings) of its constituents and the syntax of the sentence. Semantic minimalism is thus able to draw a neat boundary between semantics and pragmatics: semantics has as its focus the truth-conditional content of sentences, while pragmatics is concerned with the various uses speakers make of language in communicative exchanges.

Article.  6347 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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