Questions tagged [philosophy-of-language]

for philosophical questions concerning the nature, origins, and usage of natural language

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26
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14answers
10k views

Since words are defined in terms of other words in dictionaries, leading to infinite loops, does it mean natural languages are meaningless?

Since words are defined in terms of other words in dictionaries, leading to infinite loops, does it mean natural languages are meaningless? Are infinitely recursive definitions valid? If we visualize ...
17
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7answers
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Why is the Münchhausen trilemma an unsolved problem?

Why is the Münchhausen trilemma unsolved? Couldn't anybody find some reasons for proving/disproving it? Or are there other reasons for it being called "unsolved"? the trilemma If we ask of any ...
16
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3answers
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What are some ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus other than resolute/irresolute?

There are, at present, two dominant ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (TLP). One is called the irresolute reading, the other the resolute reading. The irresolute reading ...
16
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4answers
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Should we save endangered languages?

There are over six thousand living languages in the world, of which more than one thousand are defined as "endangered" - they are at serious risk of becoming extinct, with no living speakers. Rather ...
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4answers
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What are some good books about Wittgenstein's philosophy of language?

I'm a computer science PhD student which does some work in Knowledge Representation, and I have studied a lot of (mathematical) logic. As far as I remember from my high school philosophy classes, ...
15
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6answers
412 views

Is a language its dictionary?

A dictionary defines words in a language, in terms of other words in that same language. An English dictionary is not the same as a Spanish dictionary, simply because the sets of English words and ...
14
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2answers
368 views

What are the implications of ordinary language philosophy on the study of langauge?

I can't see how the etymology of a word has any significance other than an historical significance. So how can we characterize this connection between the original formation of a word and its current, ...
13
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5answers
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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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1answer
714 views

Does Google's latest translation tool support Jerry Fodor's Language of Thought Hypothesis?

Google recently updated their translation tool so that it can now translate between language pairs that it hadn't seen before, something they're calling "zero-shot translation." See here for the full ...
12
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8answers
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Does claiming something exists imply that the number 1 exists?

The number 1 is used in language when we make claims of existence concerning distinct well-defined objects. It seems then that to say the number 1 does not exist would imply that nothing exists at all....
12
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2answers
284 views

How does language alter our experience of the world?

I was thinking — if we didn't have words our experiences would be different somehow. It seems to me that perhaps words are limiting our experiences because as soon as we relate an experience to a ...
11
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9answers
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what is the truth value of a sarcastic statement?

In light of Donald Trump's many statements (and then retractions of said statements) it is very difficult to decide whether what he is saying is true or false. Many attempts at fact-checking often ...
11
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4answers
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What makes a good question?

Most philosophy begins with a question. I'm wondering why certain questions provoke more profound thoughts than others. What characteristics do good questions share with each other? How can we go ...
11
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2answers
478 views

Is “Mickey Mouse” a rigid designator?

According to Kripke, proper names, like Barack Obama, Michael Jackson etc are rigid designators. In all possible worlds, the name refers to the 'object' Barack Obama or Michael Jackson. This is true ...
11
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3answers
871 views

Why would Wittgenstein say we can't have a perfect language?

I have been reading Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and my question is how does he come to realize that we can't have a perfect language. For instance I would say math is a perfect ...
11
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4answers
301 views

Does languange somehow filter what we can know?

I've read a proposition somewhere: That our languange acts as a filter, allowing us to know certain things while making it impossible to know the rest(1). It seems that mathematics has some things ...
11
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2answers
537 views

Are normative definitions possible in ordinary language philosophy?

If I recall correctly, analyzing a concept in ordinary-language philosophy involved taking inventory on how the term for the concept is used by the speakers of the language across contexts, thus ...
10
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8answers
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What is the truth value of the proposition 'All unicorns are beautiful'?

If we let Fx denotes that which has the property of being a unicorn, and Gx denotes that which has the property of being beautiful, then this proposition would be signified by the following: ∀x(Fx→Gx)...
10
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7answers
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Is music just another language?

In this video (starting around 00:28:30) the interviewer, Bryan Magee, and Noam Chomsky discuss musical composition as a form of thinking without language. But it seems trivial to me that music is a ...
10
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4answers
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Who does Wil Wheaton represent in “Big Bang Theory”?

Following the aesthetics-challenge my first question on this site: In several episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" Wil Wheaton appears. In the credits it is stated that he plays "himself". But I have ...
10
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2answers
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What did Wittgenstein mean by saying that the belief in the causal nexus is a superstition?

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittenstein says: 5.1361 The events of the future cannot be inferred from those of the present. Superstition is the belief in the causal nexus. I'm ...
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3answers
3k views

Can a “real” paradox exist?

Given a statement, S: "S is not true." We arrive at a paradoxical solution whether or not we assume S to be true or false. Does this automatically imply that we have made an error in logic, ...
10
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9answers
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What came first, language or consciousness?

What came first, language or consciousness? Has any philosopher said that language gives us consciousness by allowing us to communicate with ourselves and therefore giving us choices that we did ...
9
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7answers
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Is mathematics a language?

Galileo gave the metaphor that the natural world is written in the language of mathematics, but is mathematics even a language?
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5answers
473 views

What does “I” really mean?

When we refer to a human being by "I"/"you"/"he"/"she"/"Mary", what do we really mean? The more I think about it, the more confused I get. Do we mean living body or emotional/psychological world or ...
9
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2answers
467 views

What is Quine's response to Parmenides's argument against change?

I was recently reading Russell's chapter on Parmenides in The History of Western Philosophy, and I came across a fun little argument for the absence of change. Essentially, it says that word meaning ...
9
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2answers
299 views

what are the limits of rigid designation?

There is a gnome in my garden, which I've christened 'Barack Obama'. (This is the plaster-of-paris sort, not a fictional one.) Is there a possible world in which the two swap? What does Kripke say? ...
9
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1answer
160 views

Is the justificationist theory of meaning compatible with scientific realism?

Can a realist picture adapt itself to the justificationist world view? The question might sound self contradictory. But here is where my question coming from. If you consider quantum theory as a ...
9
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2answers
164 views

Does fictional discourse pose special difficulties for logic?

Natural language is context-dependent, like the statement “My uncle is a plumber”, which is true or false depending on who asserts it. There has been lots of discussion about fictional entities and ...
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9answers
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Could a programming language be considered as a language? [closed]

This question might seem like it answers itself, but I urge you to consider the possibilities and the impact this could have on society. As a systems engineer, programming is more common to me than ...
8
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6answers
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Do mainstream philosophers believe that Wittgenstein “solved” philosophy?

After finishing his first work, Wittgenstein left philosophy, thinking that he "solved" all philosophical problems. He is now considered one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, if ...
8
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3answers
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Derrida-Searle debate - any information?

I would like to know how Derrida-Searle debate went on (Wikipedia is lacking, and Searle's response is somehow difficult to find.). Can anyone provide me some summary and some crucial details?
8
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9answers
620 views

How does materialism understand affect?

Materialism seems very intuitive to me, so much so that when we speak of 'apparently' non-physical things (ie: belief, awareness, concepts, ideas, sensations), my initial reaction is that there must ...
8
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3answers
520 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 ...
8
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3answers
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What's the point of 'dthat'?

David Kaplan famously formulated a logic for demonstratives (including terms like 'I', 'now', 'here' 'actually' etc.), LD, which is a version of first-order two-dimensional logic. Very roughly and ...
8
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2answers
541 views

Is there a philosophical term or theory that defines or describes the idea of 'epiphany'?

I am new to the philosophy stack exchange, so please let me know if I need to clarify this question further. I am curious if there is a distinction made in philosophical fields between a typical step-...
8
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1answer
355 views

If qualia are “something extra” to explain, isn't it weird that the brain produces speech about qualia?

This question is mainly directed at people who are firm physicalists (as opposed to dualists) but still think qualia are "something extra to be explained". I believe Searle and Chalmers both fall into ...
8
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1answer
216 views

How is meaning-holism a problem for the analytic-synthetic distinction?

I read Quine's Two Dogmas, and I also read two of Harman's papers:'Doubts about Conceptual Analysis,' and 'Analyticity Regained?' I have a couple of observations: Both Quine and Harman adopt a kind of ...
8
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1answer
463 views

What is the role of sensations in Wittgenstein's private language argument?

In Philosophical Investigations 244-254, before talking about private signs, Wittgenstein is talking about sensations. He seems to divide this section into addressing in what way words refer to ...
8
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1answer
299 views

Are there different levels/categories of falsehood?

Consider the following sentences: The current president of the United States has 2 daughters. The current president of the United States has 5 sons. The current emperor of the United States has 12 ...
7
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8answers
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What is to be understood by the phrase “Israel's right to exist”? [closed]

As someone who is interested in the Israeli-Palestinian question one phrase that comes up in the pro-Israeli position is the insistence that the Palestinians recognise '"Israel's right to exist". (In ...
7
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8answers
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Why would this not resolve the Sorites paradox?

Bear with me here, I know nothing about philosophy that I haven't read on Wikipedia. I don't understand why the Sorites paradox is considered an unsolved problem in philosophy (according to Wikipedia)...
7
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3answers
592 views

Is Chomskys universal grammar synthetic a priori?

Chomskys notion of a universal grammar is his way of comprehending that human languages appear to have a deep grammar, and that children appear to learn language as though they are primed for it. It ...
7
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3answers
851 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
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1answer
861 views

How do Kripke's rigid designators and the necessity of identity relate to the Duhem-Quine thesis?

The Duhem-Quine thesis refers to the underdetermination of scientific theories and the fact that it is impossible to test scientific theories in isolation, we always need to make background ...
7
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1answer
376 views

How to implement the so called 'principle of charity'?

The 'principle of charity' has been considered of great importance especially in scholarly communication. It is not very clear, nonetheless, how the principle can be implemented, even in simple ...
7
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3answers
556 views

What philosopher said that knowledge is about discerning differences?

I have heard that knowledge is discerning differences or to that effect. For example, if all things are the same such that there is no differentiating qualities, we can't really speak of anything ...
7
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1answer
129 views

How does Epistemology show that it's not a language game?

I'm looking for pointers towards texts that treat the issue of "doing philosophy with language" as a foundational problem-- which must be justified in order to go on and make meaningful statements ...
7
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1answer
424 views

Why substitutivity doesn't work in an intensional context?

I was trying to grasp some more insights on the difference between intensional and extensional. I started reading this article by Melvin Fitting on intensional logic. It seems interesting but I ...
7
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2answers
236 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. ...