Intention‐Based Semantics

Emma Borg

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

Intention‐Based Semantics

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There is a sense in which it is trivial to say that one accepts intention- (or convention-)based semantics. For if what is meant by this claim is simply that there is an important respect in which words and sentences have meaning (either at all or the particular meanings that they have in any given natural language) due to the fact that they are used, in the way they are, by intentional agents (i.e. speakers), then it seems no one should disagree. For imagine a possible world where there are physical things which share the shape and form of words of English or Japanese, or the acoustic properties of sentences of Finnish or Arapaho, yet where there are no intentional agents (or where any remaining intentional agents don't use language). In such a world, it seems clear that these physical objects, which are only superficially language-like, will lack all meaning.

Keywords: intention-based semantics; meaning; natural language; sentence; physical objects; language expression

Article.  8233 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Mind

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