Questions tagged [philosophy-of-language]

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

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9
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7answers
6k views

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
450 views

Can a question be bullshit?

In his essay On Bullshit Frankfurt writes: The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no ...
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1answer
586 views

What are the objections to Wittgenstein's argument that semantics and syntax are the same?

Wittgenstein claimed that syntax and semantics are the same because in some language constructions, syntax can be made to function as semantics. Since it seems like there is still some opposition to ...
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2answers
248 views

What is the difference between expressivism and representationalism in modern philosophy of language?

Philosophers like Robert Brandom and Huw Price make a fairly sharp distinction between expression and representation (or at least expressivism and representationalism). Price goes so far as to ...
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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)...
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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 ...
5
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3answers
353 views

How do we understand and fix reference for scientific units of measure?

Saul Kripke provides us with a clear way of how we understand and use names in Naming and Necessity. While this solves the problem of how we attribute and understand proper names an interesting ...
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0answers
108 views

Are there any contemporary continental studies based on linking the philosophy of language to science?

I guess verificationism may be a philosophy of language: the idea that to know the meaning of a scientific proposition... is to know what would be evidence for that proposition Are there more ...
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1answer
363 views

Why was Russell's theory of descriptions taken seriously?

Russell's theory of descriptions revolves around the definite and the indefinite articles of the English language in an attempt to solve some of the basic but serious problems in philosophy of ...
10
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7answers
1k views

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 ...
6
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2answers
392 views

How should we choose between different theories according to Rorty, based on Kuhn?

Popper tried to distinguish a scientific framework from a non-scientific framework ( like Marxism or Psychoanalysis, according to him) by suggesting the criterion of falsification. Kuhn suggested ...
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2answers
439 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 ...
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1answer
263 views

Are these two statements about Ramseyfication true? [closed]

They just seem intuitively likely, though I'm not feeling very au fait with what exactly Ramsey sentences are. The Ramseyfication of everything that is necessarily true in a linguistic system leaves ...
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2answers
80 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 ...
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2answers
343 views

How does Wittgenstein think language is acquired?

Wittgenstein is critical of the 'private linguist' and his exclusive use of the ostensive definition, where the definition provided for a given word is an example or a 'pointing out' of what the word ...
6
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1answer
153 views

Kripke's Solution to Negative Existentials

From what I've collected, Quine seemed to have solved the problem of non-being by using Russell's theory of definite descriptions through the negation of the x having certain properties/descriptions. ...
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1answer
114 views

Does the existence of the proposition require language to be referential?

If we grant that there is a proposition wherein something meaningful is being asserted, does that require us to think of language as essentially representative in some way? If language didn't contain ...
4
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2answers
736 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?...
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1answer
268 views

The Picture Theory of Meaning

I'm not quite clear as to exactly how how Wittgenstein concludes that metaphysical/non-phenomenal talk is meaningless in his Tractatus. Doesn't a statement like, "God exists" and its propositional ...
6
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2answers
243 views

The Tractatus and the Meaninglessness of Traditional Philosophy

After some research and personal investigation of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, I can't help but be confused by his conclusion that metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, etc. are meaningless given our language'...
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1answer
148 views

Do signifiers in a “system of signs” refer to each other, as well as the signified?

Saussure claimed that language is "a system of signs that express ideas." Handbook of Semiotics, By Winfried Nöth, p57. Do these signs, in language or any of the sign systems just mentioned, refer ...
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4answers
491 views

Truth Value of Sentences Containing Logical Contradictions

Do propositions containing logical contradictions have truth values, or are they meaningless? For example: A) Some married bachelors exist. B) 95% of married bachelors live in Maryland. C) ...
5
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1answer
380 views

What is the relation between 'knowledge-that' and 'knowledge-how'?

Quick bit of definitions for the words: Knowledge-that is knowledge that answers a question about a thing. It is informative of a thing's nature or kind. Knowledge-how is knowledge that is expressed ...
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0answers
48 views

Nominalist views and contradictions

Given a flavor of nominalism which denies that simple sentences and existential quantifiers referring to mathematical objects are literally true (pretense theory, fictionalism, figuralism, etc.), ...
8
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1answer
446 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 ...
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2answers
319 views

Understanding Sellars' The Myth of the Given rigorously

I understand the general view presented by Sellars in "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind". Yet, I can't get rigorously convinced. The main point is shown in part XIII, specifically in section 35. ...
2
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1answer
378 views

What happens when something becomes familiar to us?

Lately I've been pre-ocuppied with this question, which frankly makes me look at my surroundings in a fresh way. (I am mainly concerned with objects at the moment, but I think there can be a lot of ...
6
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1answer
297 views

Did Wittgenstein consider the possibility of a private language with public content?

Wittgenstein criticized the idea that there could be a meaningful language that was only known in principle by one person. His insights have often been used to disregard the idea of private mental ...
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3answers
982 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 ...
2
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1answer
409 views

Individual/Universal Concepts: What does Popper mean in section 14 of Logic of Scientific Discovery?

In section 14 of The Logic of Scientific Discovery Popper discusses the use of universal and individual names or concepts in singular and universal statements. He starts with a pretty ...
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1answer
266 views

Does later Wittgenstein think that the pragmatic test for meaning is a determinant of semantic content to the exclusion of any other determinant?

Wittgenstein originally put forward the 'picture theory of meaning', which propagated that a given sentence or word is meaningful insofar as it corresponds to a fact or 'picture' of the world. The ...
4
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1answer
107 views

Did Frege criticize the style of the Tractatus?

Wittgenstein's Tractatus appears to have a singular style (526 sections numbered and organized in decimal under headings 1 to 7). It's also very concise. And the stylistic side is not envisaged by ...
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2answers
77 views

Word for property such that any object which possesses it is the only object which possesses it?

Suppose that I have a property such that any object which possesses it is the only object which possesses it. For example we might suppose that the property of "being Sally's partner" is such a ...
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0answers
29 views

Who are the contemporary proponents of the metalinguistic view about idenity statements?

I am looking for contemporary proponents of the following thesis: Identity statements such as "a = b" are to be interpreted metalingustically, for example as "the names "a" and "b" are coreferential"....
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1answer
422 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 '...
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1answer
99 views

The Death of Language - what does it mean?

I see this concept or idea mentioned in few essays. Afaiu - the end of language - the limit of language - death of meaning - .... But what does it mean - abstractly and/or practically?
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5answers
256 views

David Lewis, conditionals and restrictive quantification

In a nutshell: When are conditionals containing adverbial quantifiers true according to the David Lewis account? In particular, how are they to be judged if the situation in the antecedent never ...
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1answer
161 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 '...
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1answer
88 views

Why does a formal language not need to specify time interval to be interpreted? [closed]

I am reading a book about history of mathematics, and it inspired to think about that formal languages do not need to specify time to transfer a message. I am thinking about DNA as a formal language, ...
4
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1answer
134 views

Which problem is Russell focusing on while providing a solution, in his introduction to the Tractatus?

In the final part of his introduction to the Tractatus Logico-philosophicus, Russell provides a possible solution to the problem of the impossibility of self-reference of logic: There is one ...
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1answer
119 views

Why may I considere Wittgenstein a Kantian thinker with regard to metaphysics?

Wittgenstein is a Kantian philosopher as far as the structure of the Tractatus, as far as the last part (section 6 and comments) are concerned with: that I cannot speak about the subject in the ...
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1answer
45 views

Are propositions of sciences to be considered propositions of natural language, in the Tractatus?

Given the following assumptions: 1) When Wittgenstein speaks about meaningful propositions he does refer to propositions of natural sciences. 2) About the problem of the perfection of language, he ...
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1answer
217 views

can a vague sentence be considered meaningful in the Tractatus?

In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein draws a demarcation among meaningful sentences (1), the meaningless propositions of logic (2: sinnlos sätze) and nonsensical propositions (3: unsinnig sätze). 1) ...
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1answer
419 views

How Russell and Ramsey misunderstood Wittgenstein with regard to the problem of the perfection of language?

In the Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus there is a tension between the aim of achieving a language perfectly ordered, with regard to natural language, and the evidence that the latter is not really ...
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1answer
221 views

How can statements in linguistics be falsifiable?

Linguistics is the scientific study of languages, and yet it seems to me that many, if not most statements would fail falsificationist or even verificationist demarcation criteria. How can statements ...
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1answer
816 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 ...
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0answers
82 views

Does Every Logic Have the Potential for Violent Measurement?

Measurement, in the broad sense, involves useful abstractions and logical applicability that allow us to survey environmental data with extreme precision and prediction. The tools or instruments used ...
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2answers
141 views

Why did René Descartes opine that languages are 'fruits of study', but oratory and poetry 'gifts of the mind'?

Preface: Thinking this a question on Linguistics, I first posed on Linguistics SE but was redirected here. Source: p 76, Philosophy ; A Very Short Introduction (2002) by Edward Craig. Admittedly, ...
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2answers
120 views

Can you teach something you don't know? [closed]

Is it possible to teach something you don't know?
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1answer
374 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 ...