Individualism, Externalism and Idiolectical Meaning
- Robert Eamon Briscoe
- … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
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.”
A rule, so far as it interests us, does not act at a distance. Wittgenstein (1958, 14).
A rule, so far as it interests us, does not act at a distance.
Wittgenstein (1958, 14).
- Bilgrami, A. (1992) Belief and Meaning. Blackwell, Oxford
- Bilgrami, A. (1993a) ‘Can Externalism be Reconciled with Self-Knowledge?’. Philosophical Topics 20: pp. 233-267
- Bilgrami, A. (1993b), Comment on Chomsky in Language and Thought, Moyer Bell, London, pp. 57–68.
- Bilgrami, A. (1998) ‘Why Holism is Harmless and Necessary’. Philosophical Perspectives 12: pp. 105-126
- Brandom, R. (1994) Making it Explicit. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
- Burge, T. (1977) ‘Belief De Re’. The Journal of Philosophy LXXIV: pp. 338-362 CrossRef
- Burge, T. (1979) ‘Individualism and the Mental’. Midwest Studies IV: pp. 73-121
- Burge, T. (1982). Other Bodies in Thought and Object, in A. Woodfield (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 97–120.
- Burge, T. ‘Wherein is Language Social?’. In: George, A. eds. (1989) Reflections on Chomsky. Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 175-191
- Burge, T. ‘Individualism and Self-Knowledge’. In: Ludlow, P., Martin, N. eds. (1998) Externalism and Self-Knowledge. CSLI Publications, Stanford, pp. 111-128
- Chomsky, N. (1986) Knowledge of Language. Praeger, New York
- Chomsky, N. (1993) Language and Thought. Moyer Bell, London
- Chomsky, N. (2000) New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
- Dennett, D. (1987) The Intentional Stance. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA
- Devitt, M. ‘Meanings Just Ain’t in the Head’. In: Boolos, G. eds. (1990) Essays in Honor of Hilary Putnam. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 79-104
- Dummett, M. (1978) The Social Character of Meaning in Truth and Other Enigmas. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
- Dummett, M. (1991) Logical Basis of Metaphysics. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
- Dummett, M. (1996) The Relative Priority of Thought and Language in Frege and Other Philosophers. Oxford University Press, Oxford
- Evans, G. (1985) The Causal Theory of Names in Collected Papers. Oxford University Press, Oxford
- Goldfarb, W. (1997). ‘Wittgenstein on Fixity of Meaning; in W. Tait (ed.), Early Analytic Philosophy, Open Court, Chicago, 75–91.
- Kim, J. (1993) Supervenience and Mind. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
- Kripke, S. (1972) Naming and Necessity. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
- Kuhn, T. ‘Possible Worlds in the History of Science’. In: Conant, J., Haugeland, J. eds. (2000) The Road Since Structure. Chicago University Press, Chicago, pp. 58-90
- LaPorte, J. (1996) Chemical Kind Term Reference and the Discovery of Essence. Nous 30: pp. 112-132
- McDowell, J. and P. Pettit. (1986). ’Introduction to Subject’, Thought and Context Clarendon, Oxford, pp. 1–15.
- Millikan, R.G. (2000) On Clear and Confused Ideas. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
- Putnam, H. (1975) The Meaning of ‘Meaning’ in Philosophical Papers. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
- Putnam, H. (1981) Reason, Truth and History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
- Putnam, H. (1988) Representation and Reality. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA
- Putnam, H. (1990a) Is Water Necessarily H2O? in Realism with a Human Face. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
- Putnam, H. (1990b) Meaning Holism in Realism with a Human Face. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
- Putnam, H. (1993) ‘Reply to Akeel Bilgrami’. Philosophical Topics 20: pp. 385-391
- Putnam, H. ‘Reply to David Wiggins’. In: Clark, P., Hale, B. eds. (1994) Reading Putnam. Blackwell, Oxfordpp. 283
- Putnam, H. (1997). ‘Functionalism, Cognitive Science or Science Fiction?’, in D. M. Johnson and C. E. Erneling, (eds.), The Future of the Cognitive Revolution, Oxford University, pp. 32–45.
- Segal, G. (2000) A Slim Book About Narrow Content. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA
- Wiggins, D. ‘Putnam’s Doctrine of Natural Kind Words and Frege’s Doctrines of Sense, Reference, and Extension: Can They Cohere?’. In: Clark, P., Hale, B. eds. (1994) Reading Putnam. Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 201-215
- Wiggins, D. (2001) Sameness and Substance Renewed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
- Wilson, M. (1982). ‘Predicate Meets Property,’ The Philosophical Review, Vol. XCI, no. 4.
- Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical Investigations. Blackwell, Oxford
- Wittgenstein, L. (1958) The Blue and Brown Books. Blackwell, Oxford
- Individualism, Externalism and Idiolectical Meaning
Volume 152, Issue 1 , pp 95-128
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Philosophy, Loyola University New Orleans, 6363 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70118, USA