Acta Analytica

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 55–71 | Cite as

Meaning is Normative: A Response to Hattiangadi



Against a broad consensus within contemporary analytic philosophy, Hattiangadi (Mind and Language 21(2):220–240, 2006, 2007) has recently argued that linguistic meaning is not normative, at least not in the sense of being prescriptive. She maintains, more specifically, that standard claims to the effect that meaning is normative are usually ambiguous between two readings: one, which she calls Prescriptivity, and another, which she calls Correctness. According to Hattiangadi, though meaning is normative in the uncontroversial sense specified in the principle Correctness, it is not normative in the sense specified by Prescriptivity. In this paper, I instead show that meaning is normative in the sense of being prescriptive. My argument for this claim takes the form of a classical disjunctive syllogism. I argue that either Correctness implies (because it presupposes) Prescriptivity, or linguistically meaningful items are ‘intrinsically intentional.’ But linguistically meaningful items are not intrinsically intentional, and thus Correctness implies (because it presupposes) Prescriptivity.


Philosophy of language Wittgenstein Kripke Hattiangadi Semantic normativity Content skepticism Intentionality 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Lady Eaton CollegeTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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