Questions tagged [philosophy-of-language]

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

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7
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3answers
243 views

Why is private language an incoherent idea?

The fact that I have no problem imagining a private language probably implies that I don't understand the notion of private language. My understanding is private language is a language understandable ...
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1answer
395 views

Is this sentence contingent or necessary true? A priori or a posteriori?

Given the following sentence "Barack Obama's name is Barack Obama According to Kripke, can we say that this sentence is necessary true or is it contingent? I'm confused because proper names are ...
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5answers
266 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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2answers
876 views

What is the relation between the material conditional in logic and conditionals that we use every day?

The material conditional has a truth-value of T in every case except where the antecedent proposition is true and the consequent is false. However, this means that many conditionals are true (if only ...
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4answers
892 views

Is there any connection between Structuralism and Category Theory?

Having only the a very cursory knowledge of Structuralism, there does appear to be some points of coincidence: Structuralism: Individual elements of culture must be placed within a System/Structure. ...
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1answer
132 views

Chomsky— On Language and the Essential Chomsky

I have taken an interest in the philosophy of language and have studied on my own the equivalent of a undergrad course in the philosophy of language. I want to know if Chomsky's On Language is ...
7
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1answer
390 views

What does disposition mean in dispositional theory of meaning?

In discussion about rule-following and sceptical paradox, there is one solution called dispositional theory of meaning, which says, that if we are disposed to use a symbol + to denote addition, then ...
7
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2answers
483 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/...
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0answers
339 views

Are humans becoming more hive-like? Does this have philosophical implications?

Have any philosophers taken up human hive-like behaviour and its implications? EO Wilson and others have outlined eusociality, a mode of group selection acting in addition to selection at the ...
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7answers
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Does Searle's Chinese Room model computers correctly?

Searle invented a thought experiment, the Chinese Room, which he proposes is an argument against Strong AI (that machines think) but not against Weak AI (that machines simulate thinking), he has a man ...
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8answers
2k views

Is 'is' a verb?

Generally, or at least in my experience, 'to be' is introduced as a verb. But is it? It doesn't appear to describe a change as in 'I kicked a ball' or 'he picked the pen up'. It describes things as ...
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5answers
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What is the difference between the “is” of predication and the “is” of identity?

What is the difference between these, the "is" of predication and the "is" of identity? For example, when I say, "my pet is a cat", am I using "is" as an identity or as a predicate?
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3answers
626 views

Frege's Argument About the Sense and Reference of a Sentence

Here is the text I am working with: http://brianrabern.net/sensereference.pdf As the title of this thread indicates, I am having trouble understanding Frege's argument that the thought of sentence (i....
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3answers
306 views

Can the oldest man in the world die?

In the news, I read "Recently, the oldest man in the world died." I know the intended meaning of the above sentence, but language wise it might be kind of a stretch. Is this a sentence where the ...
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1answer
1k views

Is Wittgenstein right when he criticises recursion theory in the Tractatus 3.333?

In a notorious text from the Tractatus 3.333 Wittgenstein argues that a function that has a value in one argument cannot be re-used in a another. Hence recursive functions are meaningless. This ...
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522 views

Why does the philosophy concerned with the problem of negative existential statements not make use of mental representations to solve it?

Meinong, Frege, Russel and Kripke all seem to accept the principle, that for a statement to be true, its singular terms must denote an object. This leads to the problem, that a sentence like 'The ...
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2answers
415 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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Are “'why' questions” useful in or applicable to the study of science?

Based on the lively discussion of this question over at physics.stackexchange, I thought it might be useful to ask it here as well. The kernel of the debate is whether or not "why" questions are ...
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234 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

Why did Jacques Derrida call his theory “deconstruction”?

Deconstruction literally should mean "destroying something" or "tearing something apart" or something like that—something that is opposite to "construction". Why he has chosen this term for his ...
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2answers
334 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. ...
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8answers
751 views

Assuming P means the same as Q and Bob believes P and is aware that P means the same as Q, can we conclude he believes Q?

Assuming Bob is a fairly rational person. If this is not the case, then is there a way to modify it? Also, is this the argument that Frege is making in "On Sense and Reference" that "the morning star" ...
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2answers
288 views

What is the ontological stance of formalists on mathematical objects?

Are modern proponents of formalism associated with an ontoglogical opinion regarding numbers? If they view mathematics as the process of manipulating string according to agreed upon rules, there is ...
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1answer
490 views

What criticisms of Wittgenstein's philosophy of language have been offered?

In a 2003 obituary, Anna Sherrat described one of my many philosophy heroes, Donald Davidson, as “one of the greatest American philosophers.” She did an excellent job of summarizing one of the ...
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2answers
260 views

Does a philosophy of language presuppose a philosophy of mind?

Ever since the "linguistic turn", philosophers have been keenly aware of the need of analyzing certain questions about language. In retrospect, John Searle, in Expression and Meaning, notes "the ...
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1answer
237 views

How does Wittgenstein's argument against recognizing private sensations work?

Wittgenstein writes in his Philosophical Investigations in paragraph 270: Let us imagine a use for the entry of the sign "S" in my diary. I discover that whenever I have a particular sensation a ...
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1answer
133 views

How does Putnam reconcile having referents in language with rejection of realism?

Putnam is known for changing his mind often, but he seems to hold two views of linguistic meaning and reference simultaneously, combining which seems paradoxical. One is Quine's inscrutability of ...
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2answers
270 views

Is there a natural example of a non-self-referential semantic paradox in philosophy?

A commonly studied paradox is the liar's paradox. The liar's paradox is to determine whether "this statement is false". The usual resolution is to state this the sentence is not actually a statement ...
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256 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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6answers
268 views

Is there any philosophical school of thought arguing for the primacy of words over symbols or mathematics in explaining things?

I'm not claiming that words are superior to symbols in all respects. I'm just curious if there is a school of thought arguing that natural language has more use than mathematics or formal language in ...
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3answers
2k views

Language or idea? Which comes first? (language of thought hypothesis)

I'm a physicist, but I do like philosophy, so I was arguing with a friend about what comes first: Ideas or the language/symbolism? More Precisely: If we define thinking process as: a kind of ...
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3answers
433 views

What is the fallacy of defining a square as “a closed-plane figure whose sides are all equal”?

I am determined to prove my professor wrong. Here is a question from a recent exam: Using the six definitional criteria, evaluate the following definition. A square is a closed-plane figure whose ...
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1answer
369 views

Are there some facets of perceptual experience which cannot be characterized as conceptual?

Some philosophers (e.g John McDowell) argue that the content of perceptual experience is necessarily characterized by conceptual terms; namely - the content of the experience is entirely built of ...
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1answer
157 views

How might a modern defender of positivism classify a “speech act”?

A few people here have wondered whether positivism is really dead. I was under the impression that it was for a long time; but there seem to be some sympathizers with positivism here, and I'd be ...
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1answer
307 views

Does Bergson view symbols negatively or only as a secondary source of knowledge?

In the Introduction to Metaphysics, metaphysics is defined as "that science which claims to dispense with symbols." Bergson contends that the human mind operates discursively, or by taking snapshots ...
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1answer
112 views

Is there a contemporary survey of exportation?

In "Unrestricted Exportation and Some Morals for the Philosophy of Language", Kripke discusses unrestricted exportation in relation to the de dicto / de re distinction. In this paper he cites a few ...
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1answer
172 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
315 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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1answer
463 views

Has Putnam's “division of linguistic labor” been developed elsewhere?

In "Reference and Meaning" Putnam mentions, as an aside, that language requires a certain "division of linguistic labor" that has not been previously recognized. By this, as I take it, he simply ...
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1answer
2k views

How does logocentrism entail metaphysics of presence?

Various definitions and explanations of logocentrism, in general and in context of Derrida in particular, seem to be either incomprehensible or logically invalid. The narrowest definition states that ...
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15answers
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Is every sentence we write or utter either true or false? [closed]

Please read the complete description before putting any answer / comment, Thank you. I've been just thinking through this question which I can frame it like this: Can I write or utter any sentence ...
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7answers
940 views

How is the meaning of life “recursive”?

I read the following from wikipedia (which I have found quoted in various discussion forums) on the Meaning of Life. Logical positivists ask: "What is the meaning of life?", "What is the meaning in ...
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7answers
1k views

What actually are meaningless symbols?

Some days ago our professor during the course of his lecture wrote the following definition of a polynomial. We say that an expression of the form a0 + a1x + a2x2 + ... + anxn is a polynomial of ...
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6answers
216 views

Is it possible to communicate the ineffable?

If one has an ineffable experience or, more simply, an epiphany related to the ineffable dimension, can he communicate it to other people in principle (that is, through a communication that exists on ...
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3answers
2k 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 ...
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4answers
107 views

Why are referring and predicating distinct from illocutionary acts?

I have been reading Searle's Speech Acts and he mentioned that in the four sentences mentioned below, while they share the same reference (Sam) and predication (smoking habitually), they are four ...
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3answers
225 views

Are consistent solipsists limited to the singular when referencing themselves?

If you are an Idealistic Solipsist, is it not true that you must say "I am a Solipsist." or "I am the Solipsist."? One cannot say "I am one of the Solipsists" for example. Are there other ...
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2answers
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What do philosophers mean by 'conceivable'?

Philosophers, especially in analytic metaphysics, often talk about the conceivability of things. Here are some examples: I can conceive a perfect being, therefore, a perfect being is possible. ...
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4answers
217 views

Wittgenstein's Challenge: Good Practice or Bad Advice?

Wittgenstein, in his Tractacus, lays out a number of interesting propositions. His 7th is famous for the odd advice it seems to suggest. It reads: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be ...
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3answers
356 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 ...