Conceptual Role Semantics

Mark Greenberg and Gilbert Harman

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Conceptual Role Semantics

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  • Philosophy of Mind



Conceptual role semantics (CRS) is the view that the meanings of expressions of a language (or other symbol system) or the contents of mental states are determined or explained by the role of the expressions or mental states in thinking. The theory can be taken to be applicable to language in the ordinary sense, to mental representations, conceived of either as symbols in a ‘language of thought’ or as mental states such as beliefs, or to certain other sorts of symbol systems. CRS rejects the competing idea that thoughts have intrinsic content that is prior to the use of concepts in thought. According to CRS, meaning and content derive from use, not the other way round.

Keywords: conceptual role semantics; meanings; expressions of a language; symbol system; mental states; language of thought

Article.  13431 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Mind

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