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

Externalism and a Posteriori Semantics

Sören Häggqvist and Åsa Wikforss
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 67, No. 3 (Nov., 2007), pp. 373-386
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27667939
Page Count: 14
  • Download PDF
  • Cite this Item

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
Externalism and a Posteriori Semantics
Preview not available

Abstract

It is widely held that the meaning of certain types of terms, such as natural kind terms, is individuated externalistically, in terms of the individual's external environment. Recently a more radical thesis has emerged, a thesis we dub 'a posteriori semantics.' The suggestion is that not only does a term's meaning depend on the external environment, but so does its semantics. One motivation for this is the aim to account for cases where a putative natural kind term fails to pick out a natural kind: The term may have a standard externalist semantics (if it picks out a natural kind) or a more descriptivist one (if it does not). Knowing which semantics applies will therefore require detailed empirical knowledge. This move has also been employed in cases where a singular term, such as a name, fails to have a reference. We argue that a posteriori semantics is inherently implausible, since the type of semantics common terms should be given ought not to be conditional on details of chemistry or physics. A number of difficulties for the position—'metaphysical,' epistemological, and methodological—are articulated. Finally, we suggest that a posteriori semantics misconstrues the way in which semantics is empirical.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[373]
    [373]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
374
    374
  • Thumbnail: Page 
375
    375
  • Thumbnail: Page 
376
    376
  • Thumbnail: Page 
377
    377
  • Thumbnail: Page 
378
    378
  • Thumbnail: Page 
379
    379
  • Thumbnail: Page 
380
    380
  • Thumbnail: Page 
381
    381
  • Thumbnail: Page 
382
    382
  • Thumbnail: Page 
383
    383
  • Thumbnail: Page 
384
    384
  • Thumbnail: Page 
385
    385
  • Thumbnail: Page 
386
    386