Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Individualism, Externalism and Idiolectical Meaning

Robert Eamon Briscoe
Synthese
Vol. 152, No. 1 (Sep., 2006), pp. 95-128
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20118838
Page Count: 34
  • Download ($43.95)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Individualism, Externalism and Idiolectical Meaning
Preview not available

Abstract

Semantic externalism in contemporary philosophy of language typically -- and often tacitly -- combines two supervenience claims about idiolectical meaning (i.e., meaning in the language system of an individual speaker). The first claim is that the meaning of a word in a speaker's idiolect may vary without any variation in her intrinsic, physical properties. The second is that the meaning of a word in a speaker's idiolect may vary without any variation in her understanding of it. I here show that a conception of idiolectical meaning is possible that accepts the "anti-internalism" of the first claim while rejecting (what I shall refer to as) the "anti-individualism" of the second. According to this conception, externally constituted idiolectical meaning supervenes on idiolectical understanding. I begin by trying to show that it is possible to disentangle anti-internalist and anti-individualist strands of argument in Hilary Putnam's well-known and widely influential "The Meaning of 'Meaning'." Having once argued that the latter strand of argument is not cogent, I then try to show that individualism (in the sense above) can be reconciled with perhaps the most plausible reconstruction of Putnam's well-known and widely accepted "indexical" theory of natural kind terms. Integral to my defense of the possibility of an individualist externalism about idiolectical meaning are my efforts to demonstrate that, pace Putnam, there is no "division of linguistic labor" when it comes to the fixing the meanings of such terms in a speaker's idiolect. The fact that average speakers sometimes need defer to experts shows that not reference, but only reliable recognition of what belongs in the extension of a natural kind term is a "social phenomenon".

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[95]
    [95]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
96
    96
  • Thumbnail: Page 
97
    97
  • Thumbnail: Page 
98
    98
  • Thumbnail: Page 
99
    99
  • Thumbnail: Page 
100
    100
  • Thumbnail: Page 
101
    101
  • Thumbnail: Page 
102
    102
  • Thumbnail: Page 
103
    103
  • Thumbnail: Page 
104
    104
  • Thumbnail: Page 
105
    105
  • Thumbnail: Page 
106
    106
  • Thumbnail: Page 
107
    107
  • Thumbnail: Page 
108
    108
  • Thumbnail: Page 
109
    109
  • Thumbnail: Page 
110
    110
  • Thumbnail: Page 
111
    111
  • Thumbnail: Page 
112
    112
  • Thumbnail: Page 
113
    113
  • Thumbnail: Page 
114
    114
  • Thumbnail: Page 
115
    115
  • Thumbnail: Page 
116
    116
  • Thumbnail: Page 
117
    117
  • Thumbnail: Page 
118
    118
  • Thumbnail: Page 
119
    119
  • Thumbnail: Page 
120
    120
  • Thumbnail: Page 
121
    121
  • Thumbnail: Page 
122
    122
  • Thumbnail: Page 
123
    123
  • Thumbnail: Page 
124
    124
  • Thumbnail: Page 
125
    125
  • Thumbnail: Page 
126
    126
  • Thumbnail: Page 
127
    127
  • Thumbnail: Page 
128
    128