By Michael Devitt
Michael Devitt is a uncommon thinker of language. during this new e-book he is taking up concerns in semantics. 3 vital questions lie on the center of this e-book: What are the most ambitions of semantics? Why are they invaluable? How may still we accomplish them? Devitt solutions those "methodological" questions naturalistically and explores what semantic software arises from the solutions. The method is anti-Cartesian, rejecting the concept that linguistic or conceptual competence yields any privileged entry to meanings. Devitt argues for a truth-referential localism and within the method rejects direct-reference, two-factor, and verificationist theories. The e-book concludes by way of arguing opposed to revisionism, eliminativism, and the concept that we must always ascribe slim meanings to give an explanation for habit.
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Extra info for Coming to our Senses: A Naturalistic Program for Semantic Localism
One final methodological point. Some problems are not in the evidence but in reality: There may sin1ply be no fact of the matter of whether or not certain obj ects are F. Consider, for example, a case where the various criteria of specieshood come into conflict; or consider the intermediate stages in the evolution of one species from another. The nature of being an F is to that extent indeter minate, or, given the semantic associations of that term, perhaps we should say, vague. This raises some interesting logical puzzles2 8 but is otherwise an untroubling fact of life.
Yet you plan to apply conclusions drawn from this discussion to semantics . " The "iden tification assumption" is indeed semantic, but it is so minimally so that it should be acceptable to semanticists of all persuasions. Its main interest is epistemological. We have found a place for intuitions, but not yet for thought experiments. These experiments can have a role in identification. Instead of "real" experiments that confront the expert with phe nomena and ask her whether they are F's, we confront her with descriptions of phenomena and ask her whether she would say that they were F's.
With them, the subject matter of investigation is already identified relatively un controversially. This reflects the fact that we have clear and famil iar theoretical or practical purposes for which we identifY the sub ject matter. Semantics does not start out like that. It is far from clear what counts as a meaning that needs explaining. Indeed, the intractable nature of semantic disputes largely sten1s from differing opinions about what counts. 6 Lycan has brought out the problem wittily with his "Double Indexical Theory of Meaning" : = M EANING clef Whatever aspect of linguistic activity happens to interest me now.
Coming to our Senses: A Naturalistic Program for Semantic Localism by Michael Devitt