Meaning Holism

Peter Pagin

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577451 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Meaning Holism

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The term ‘meaning holism’ (together with variants like ‘semantic holism’ and ‘linguistic holism’) has been used for a number of more or less closely interrelated ideas. According to one common view, meaning holism (MH) is the thesis that what a linguistic expression means depends on its relations to many or all other expressions within the same totality. Sometimes these relations are called ‘conceptual’ or ‘inferential’. A related idea is that what an expression means depends, mutually, on the meaning of the other expressions in the totality, or alternatively on some semantic property of this totality itself. The totality in question may be the language to which the expressions belong, or a theory formulation in that language.

Keywords: meaning holism; semantic holism; linguistic holism; linguistic expression; semantic property; theory formulation

Article.  10001 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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