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Questions tagged [meaning]

**NOTE: This tag should not be used.** For questions about the nature of meaning, please use "philosophy-of-language" if you want to ask about the meaning of some quote or idea, please use the name of that idea.

15
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5answers
958 views

Is there a point to arguing about the meaning of words?

Firstly, I should mention that I am not sure, whether this the right place to ask such a question, but I am trying it anyway. Furthermore, one could say I come from a mathematics background and I am ...
13
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3answers
2k views

How does Putnam's twin earth thought experiment disprove functionalism?

In the twin Earth thought experiment Putnam determines that meanings are not in the head. Later interpretations, by himself and by others, take it to falsify functionalism. It seems to me that the ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Do Wittgenstein and Quine give the same criticisms of semantics?

What is the connection between the criticisms offered by Wittgenstein and Quine of meaning and language? Are both philosophers generally criticizing the same semantic theories with similar arguments, ...
10
votes
3answers
391 views

What are the relations between externalism (Kripke, Putnam) and holism (Quine) about meaning?

Three points are not clear to me about the relations between semantic externalism (Kripke, Putnam) and holism (Quine): Is there a way according to which externalism and holism can be held together or ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between responsibility and commitment?

I was recently looking at philosophy of responsibility, and something interesting which I had not thought about before, was that the way we use "responsibility" includes things not necessarily caused ...
9
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3answers
1k views

What fallacy infers motivation from mere description?

Here's some example: "Men dominate women in the majority of fortune top 100 CEO positions" "Women dominate men in primary school teaching jobs" Neither the men nor the women are actually purposely ...
9
votes
2answers
560 views

What does “is true” mean in the phrase “a philosophical position is true”?

I have run into an online discussion about philosophies and world views (theism, atheism, humanism, nihilism, and all the other "isms") where phrases like "*ism is true" and "*ism is false" are used. ...
9
votes
2answers
226 views

Can there be a sufficient account of meaning without an account of intentionality?

Much has been said in recent philosophy in criticism of representationalist theories of meaning. The idea is that any representation can represent what it will only in a prior, limiting context. ...
9
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4answers
2k views

Understanding Grice's Theory of (Non-Natural) Meaning

I am trying to understand Paul Grice's famous essay "Meaning". So consider a computer system which is fed a dictionary of every English word in existence. The computer system then randomly spits out ...
8
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3answers
725 views

Is there an idea of linguistic realism similar to moral realism?

The better way to phrase it is: "Are there objective truths about language?" -- this question is parallel to the question of moral realism: "Are there objective moral truths"? One way to interpret ...
7
votes
6answers
229 views

Should “meaning”, as we experience it, be considered qualia?

By qualia - assume as defined in [wikipedia]:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia, give or take ( up to you ) By "meaning as we experience it", perhaps I could just say "meaning", but i want to ...
7
votes
1answer
154 views

Was indeterminacy of linguistic meaning, as understood by Quine, anticipated by the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition?

Quine held that the meaning of words was indeterminate. The reasons he holds this view all seem to have in common a certain aspect; the indeterminacy that occurs occurs within what might be called '...
7
votes
3answers
145 views

In laymen's terms, What is the meaning of 'meaning' in the the question “is there meaning to life”?

Every now and then people talk about whether there is meaning to life, including myself. However recently I have realised I have assumed the definition. My understanding of it is that it is asking ...
7
votes
1answer
387 views

What is an “unarticulated background”?

Does a sentence only mean something because it draws on knowledge outside of itself? Take 2 + 2 = 4: is it a tautology? No: it depends on a conception of '+', which is not located within that sentence/...
6
votes
4answers
489 views

Is Peirce's pragmatic maxim self-evident?

Peirce's pragmatic maxim seems to have an appeal, at least as a "tiebreaker": Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have....
6
votes
4answers
185 views

The myth of the given and externalism

According to Wilfrid Sellars any talk of a given out there should be condemned as a mere myth. Therefore, nothing from the physical world outside can limit our language - the "space of reason", and ...
6
votes
2answers
113 views

Would a pragmatist allow that meaning is representational of things in its use?

Pragmatism contends that use should be stressed when talking about the meaning of words before 'representation'. But what if we were to look at signification/representation as a sort of activity? If ...
5
votes
7answers
1k views

When is Mathematics not about counting?

A comment on an answer I posted asserted that "Mathematics is NOT always about counting". My thoughts were that if there's a unit (inches / milligrams / light years etc), then someting is being ...
5
votes
3answers
859 views

What is the difference between propositional sign and proposition in Wittgenstein's Tractatus?

While explaining the problem of what philosophy is according to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, Frank P. Ramsey says: a propositional sign is clear insofar as the internal properties of its sense are ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Can a life have a trivial meaning if it's all there is?

I was thinking about (something like) Nagel's view from nowhere When one takes up this most external standpoint and views one's finite—and even downright puny—impact on the world, little of one's ...
5
votes
0answers
64 views

Meaning in use and naturalisation of intentionality

What is the relation between pragmatism and intentionality? Two different enterprises in philosophy seem to be well established and yet contradicting: Inferential Pragmatism: from Wittgenstein and ...
4
votes
7answers
513 views

Is “A and not-A” meaningful (and false) or meaningless?

Is there any phrase of the form "A and not-A" that is meaningful? We can imagine vernacular expressions with that form that carry meaning. I could say, "I do like France and at the same time I don't ...
4
votes
2answers
206 views

Why are propositions about Hamlet false while propositions about Louis XIX meaningless?

The following is an excerpt from Russell's "My Philosophical Development," Chapter XIV Universals and Particulars and Names: 'Hamlet' pretends to be a name, but is not; and all statements about ...
4
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3answers
1k views

How does Derrida explain the possibility of meaningful communication and linguistic coordination?

Consider this passage on Derrida and meaning (from here): The search for an 'essential reality' or 'origin' or 'truth' is futile, because "...language bears within itself the necessity of its ...
4
votes
2answers
392 views

Can Frege coherently admit expressions that have a sense but lack a reference?

I am looking here for any sources that respond to the question given: Can Frege coherently admit expressions that have a sense but lack a reference? I am familiar with a lot of the exegetical work ...
4
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2answers
210 views

What makes our words different than symbols like X?

There is an issue that blurs my head. For instance, lets have a proposition p that says: “X is round”. X is a symbol that we could mark something into. If we say X is an orange fruit, then the ...
4
votes
2answers
678 views

How do we know that Wyman and McX aren't the same person?

Quine thought that only that which exists can be referred to, or in other words 'to be is to be the value of a bound variable'. However, what of his equally famous fictional characters Wyman and McX?...
4
votes
4answers
302 views

Is meaning distinct from language?

Many theories of speech describe speech acts as being phenomena with both a sign and signified aspect. ( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/meaning/ etc.) In another perspective, which is exemplified ...
3
votes
4answers
204 views

Why are some communication failures regarded as important opinions in philosophy?

As a newbie here (though not on SO or on the net before that) I am surprised at the number of questions about what some philosopher meant. Examples, just picked from the time point of writing this ...
3
votes
3answers
44 views

What's the term/phrase when someone assumes you take on the diametrically opposed view simply because you negate a position?

What's the term/phrase when someone assumes that you take on the diametrically opposed view simply because you disagree with a position? For example, I recently posted an article challenging ...
3
votes
2answers
573 views

Albert Camus on the meaning of life?

What is wrong (if anything) with the reasoning in the following quote by Albert Camus, and why? I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others ...
3
votes
3answers
182 views

Purposelessness and DNA Propagating

Positivist evolutionary biologists claim that living beings are nothing but byproduct of purposeless random evolution. (For example, say, a flower is just a DNA propagating machine.) I am especially ...
3
votes
1answer
67 views

How are you intended to interpret x.R and x.S in Davidson “Truth and Meaning”?

I'm entirely unfamiliar with the syntax and corresponding semantics Davidson uses for the four equations at the beginning of Truth and Meaning. He states that the following sentences are supposed to ...
3
votes
2answers
280 views

What is the reflection of a mind discarded?

It's my first time in the Philosophy section of Stack Exchange. Since I am a non-native speaker, normally I ask questions in English Language Learners. However, I thought this one was in the field of ...
3
votes
0answers
94 views

Which philosophers would argue that hard determinism makes life more purposeful than randomness?

It appears to me that randomness could or could not produce something meaningful but either way hard determinism seems a better bet. Is there a writer who explores this territory?
3
votes
0answers
103 views

In which sense Quine denies that the translated expressions do have a meaning?

Early on Kuhn drew a parallel with Quine's thesis of the indeterminacy of translation (1970a, 202; 1970c, 268). According to the latter, if we are translating one language into another, there are ...
2
votes
2answers
69 views

What's the name of the argumentation position / logical fallacy of saying “well prove it doesn't exist”

For e.g someone says they believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. When you ask for evidence they reply: "well, prove it doesn't exist!" Surely it's the prerogative of the believer to provide ...
2
votes
4answers
163 views

Help to explain the meaning of work beyond the sole purpose of making money

My brother is obsessed with money and I feel like the sole reason he works is to make money, I think in your work you should aim for goals of higher value ie. not only should you earn money but your ...
2
votes
4answers
72 views

Can purpose be attributed to events without grounding in agency

As observers we observe events around us. All events have causes, either deterministic causes or non-deterministic ones. As observers however we can additionally attribute purpose (or meaning as in ...
2
votes
2answers
114 views

Is there any quantifiable way to determine irony?

Irony has always been one of the most subjective words/ideas in the common language. I wonder if this is a perception or a lack of understanding of the concept at a deep rooted level. When does a "...
2
votes
1answer
120 views

What does it mean to say what happens in your experience is inside your mind in a way in which what happens in your brain is not?

"If what happens in your experience is inside your mind in a way in which what happens in your brain is not, it looks as though your experiences and other mental states can't just be physical ...
2
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2answers
147 views

Philosophical approach for discussing the meaning of many words?

I lack a good background in philosophy and often get stuck while trying to understand it. There is a particular issue that keeps me from understanding or enjoying or appreciating many videos or texts ...
2
votes
2answers
76 views

Did Quine have another reason to be skeptical of reference besides its context-dependence?

Quine, like many others before him, thought that the meaning of words depends on the context they are in. But what compelled Quine to hold that in light of this there is an ambiguity as to what any ...
2
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2answers
159 views

Why did Wittgenstein think that only something that could be doubted could have meaning?

One of the reasons Wittgenstein thought the exclusive use of ostensive definition failed was because it opened the possibility that a given symbol's meaning was sourced from whatever sensation someone ...
2
votes
1answer
377 views

What responses have made to Kripke's criticism of the descriptivist theory of meaning?

Under the influence of Kripke's acute analysis, there has been a growing trend of modern essentialism, or in other words, the assertion that there are 'essential' descriptors (rigid designators) that '...
2
votes
1answer
148 views

Can meaning indeterminately be said to be indeterminate?

James Ross has given several reasons as to why he believes thought (and formal thought especially) is determinate. Among these, and under a formulation put forward by the contemporary philosopher ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the difference between 'meaning' and 'reference' for Putnam?

In Reason, Truth and History, Putnam talks about 'meaning' and 'reference', but I don't understand the difference between the two for him. He says: what goes on inside our head does not determine ...
2
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3answers
151 views

What analytic philosophers were concerned with meaninglessness?

What analytic philosophers were concerned primarily with meaninglessness, and where can I read what they said about it? I just find the idea interesting, but I want to circumvent existentialism for a ...
2
votes
1answer
125 views

Is “quality of life” an in-efficacious measure for a “meaningful life”?

Definitions Quality of life (QOL) is the general well-being of individuals and societies, outlining negative and positive features of life. It observes life satisfaction, including everything from ...
2
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0answers
75 views

How do debates about meaning affect the status of personal religious beliefs?

Debates about the meaning of meaning cut across the analytic/continental divide. According to externalist accounts (e.g. Kripke-Putnam's) people believe, or even know, that beeches are different from ...