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Bezuidenhout, Anne, , . Truth-Conditional Pragmatics
2002, Philosophical Perspectives 16:105-134.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: The mainstream view in philosophy of language is that sentence meaning determines truth-conditions. A corollary is that the truth or falsity of an utterance depends only on what words mean and how the world is arranged. Although several prominent philosophers (Searle, Travis, Recanati, Moravcsik) have challenged this view, it has proven hard to dislodge. The alternative view holds that meaning underdetermines truth-conditions. What is expressed by the utterance of a sentence in a context goes beyond what is encoded in the sentence itself. Truth-conditional content depends on an indefinite number of unstated background assumptions, not all of which can be made explicit. A change in background assumptions can change truth-conditions, even bracketing disambiguation and reference assignment. That is, even after disambiguating any ambiguous words in a sentence and assigning semantic values to any indexical expressions in the sentence, truth-conditions may vary with variations in the background.

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Chari, V.K., , . Validity in Interpretation: Some Indian Views
1978, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36(3): 329-340.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: An outline of the theory of interpretation within the language philosophies of ancient India. Chari organizes this extensive history according to topics such as verbal autonomy, intention, unity of meaning, polysemy, contextualism, and interpretation.

Comment: This text is appropriate for discussions of language and meaning in aesthetics, as well as philosophy of language.

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Millikan, Ruth Garrett, , . On Knowing the Meaning; With a Coda on Swampman
2010, Mind 119 (473):43-81.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Juan R. Loaiza

Abstract: I give an analysis of how empirical terms do their work in communication and the gathering of knowledge that is fully externalist and that covers the full range of empirical terms. It rests on claims about ontology. A result is that armchair analysis fails as a tool for examining meanings of ‘basic’ empirical terms because their meanings are not determined by common methods or criteria of application passed from old to new users, by conventionally determined ‘intensions’. Nor do methods of application used by individual speakers constitute definitive reference-determining intensions for their idiolect terms or associated concepts. Conventional intensions of non-basic empirical terms ultimately rest on basic empirical concepts, so no empirical meaning is found merely ‘in the head’. I discuss the nature of lexical definition, why empirical meanings cannot ultimately be modelled as functions from possible worlds to extensions, and traps into which armchair analysis of meaning can lead us. A coda explains how ‘Swampman’ examples, as used against teleosemantic theories of content, illustrate such traps

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Russell, Gillian, , . The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction
2014, Philosophy Compass 2(5): 712–729.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio and Berta Grimau, Contributed by:

Abstract: Once a standard tool in the epistemologist’s kit, the analytic/synthetic distinction was challenged by Quine and others in the mid-twentieth century and remains controversial today. But although the work of a lot contemporary philosophers touches on this distinction – in the sense that it either has consequences for it, or it assumes results about it – few have really focussed on it recently. This has the consequence that a lot has happened that should affect our view of the analytic/synthetic distinction, while little has been done to work out exactly what the effects are. All these features together make the topic ideal for either a survey or research seminar at the graduate level: it can provide an organising theme which justifies a spectrum of classic readings from Locke to Williamson, passing though Kant, Frege, Carnap, Quine and Kripke on the way, but it could also provide an excuse for a much more narrowly construed research seminar which studies the consequences of really contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics for the distinction

Comment: This paper can be used as introductory/background reading on the topic of the analytic/synthetic distinction and the famous Quinean critique to it. Suitable for an advance course on philosophy of language or a specialised course on the analytic/synthetic distinction. It can also be used in a course on the history of analytic philosophy.

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Russell, Gillian, , . Truth in Virtue of Meaning: A Defence of the Analytic/Synthetic Distinction
2008, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio and Berta Grimau, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: The analytic/synthetic distinction looks simple. It is a distinction between two different kinds of sentence. Synthetic sentences are true in part because of the way the world is, and in part because of what they mean. Analytic sentences – like all bachelors are unmarried and triangles have three sides – are different. They are true in virtue of meaning, so no matter what the world is like, as long as the sentence means what it does, it will be true.

This distinction seems powerful because analytic sentences seem to be knowable in a special way. One can know that all bachelors are unmarried, for example, just by thinking about what it means. But many twentieth-century philosophers, with Quine in the lead, argued that there were no analytic sentences, that the idea of analyticity didn’t even make sense, and that the analytic/synthetic distinction was therefore an illusion. Others couldn’t see how there could fail to be a distinction, however ingenious the arguments of Quine and his supporters.

But since the heyday of the debate, things have changed in the philosophy of language. Tools have been refined, confusions cleared up, and most significantly, many philosophers now accept a view of language – semantic externalism – on which it is possible to see how the distinction could fail. One might be tempted to think that ultimately the distinction has fallen for reasons other than those proposed in the original debate.

In Truth in Virtue of Meaning, Gillian Russell argues that it hasn’t. Using the tools of contemporary philosophy of language, she outlines a view of analytic sentences which is compatible with semantic externalism and defends that view against the old Quinean arguments. She then goes on to draw out the surprising epistemological consequences of her approach.

Comment: This can be used as further/secondary reading for a postgraduate course on epistemology or philosophy of language, focusing on Quine and on the analytic/synthetic distinction.

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Ruth Garrett Millikan, , . Truth, Rules, Hoverflies, and the Kripke-Wittgenstein Paradox
1990, Philosophical Review 99 (3):323-53
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Hannah Ginsborg

Abstract: “[T]he sceptical argument that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein, and even the ‘sceptical solution’, are of considerable importance regardless of whether they are clearly Wittgenstein’s. The naturalistically inclined philosopher, who rejects Brentano’s irreducibility and yet holds intentionality to be an objective feature of our thoughts, owes a solution to the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox.” The challenge is a welcome one. Although I will argue that the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox is not a problem for naturalists only, I will propose a naturalist solution to it. (Should the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox prove to be soluble from a naturalist standpoint but intractable from other standpoints, that would, I suppose, constitute an argument for naturalism.) Then I will show that the paradox and its solution have an important consequence for the theories of meaning and truth. The Kripke-Wittgenstein arguments which pose the paradox also put in question Dummett’s and Putnam’s view of language understanding. From this view it follows that truth rules must be “verificationist rules” that assign assertability conditions to sentences, rather than “realist rules” that assign correspondence truth conditions. The proposed solution to the paradox suggests another view of language understanding, according to which a speaker can express, through his language practice, a grasp of correspondence truth rules.

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Stojanovic, Isidora, , . What is Said, Linguistic Meaning, and Directly Referential Expressions
2006, Philosophy Compass 1 (4):373-397.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: Philosophers of language distinguish among the lexical or linguistic meaning of the sentence uttered, what is said by an utterance of the sentence, and speaker’s meaning, or what is conveyed by the speaker to her audience. In most views, what is said is the semantic or truth-conditional content of the utterance, and is irreducible either to the linguistic meaning or to the speaker’s meaning. I will show that those views account badly for people’s intuitions on what is said. I will also argue that no distinguished level of what is said is required, and that the notion of linguistic meaning is the best placed to play the role of what is said. This relies on two points. First, our intuitions on what is said cannot be detached from the ways in which we talk about what is said, and from the semantics of speech reports and indirect discourse in general. Second, besides what is said, there is an equally important notion of what what-is-said is said about, or that about which the speaker is talking. These are, then, the three main ingredients needed for the theory of what is said: linguistic meaning, what is talked about, and a semantic account of reported speech

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Taylor, Kenneth A., , . Truth and Meaning: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language
1998, Oxford: Blackwell.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: This lucid and wide-ranging volume constitutes a self-contained introduction to the elements and key issues of the philosophy of language. In particular, it focuses on the philosophical foundations of semantics, including the main challenges to and prospects for a truth conditional semantics. Since the book is neither single-mindedly philosophical, nor single-mindedly technical, it is an accessible introduction to the philosophical foundations of semantics, and will provide the ideal basis for a first course in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic.

Comment: This book offers a good introduction to theories of meaning, and includes some good, clear presentations of specialised systems of logic used in philosophy of language, giving students a good example of the existence and practical usefulness of logic beyond first-order. Chapter 3, on Tarski's formal theory of truth, is one of the better treatments of that subject available. Suitable for undergraduate and graduate teaching.

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