Meaning and Normativity

Paperback | October 8, 2014

byAllan Gibbard

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What does talk of meaning mean? All thinking consists in natural happenings in the brain. Talk of meaning though, has resisted interpretation in terms of anything that is clearly natural, such as linguistic dispositions. This, Kripke's Wittgenstein suggests, is because the concept of meaningis normative, on the "ought" side of Hume's divide between is and ought. Allan Gibbard's previous books Wise Choices, Apt Feelings and Thinking How to Live treated normative discourse as a natural phenomenon, but not as describing the world naturalistically. His theory is a form of expressivism fornormative concepts, holding, roughly, that normative statements express states of planning. This new book integrates his expressivism for normative language with a theory of how the meaning of meaning could be normative. The result applies to itself: metaethics expands to address key topics in the philosophy of language, topics which in turn include core parts of metaethics. An upshot isto lessen the contrast between expressivism and nonnaturalism: in their strongest forms, the two converge in all their theses. Still, they differ in the explanations they give. Nonnaturalists' explanations mystify, whereas expressivists render normative thinking intelligible as something to expectfrom beings like us, complexly social products of natural selection who talk with each other.

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What does talk of meaning mean? All thinking consists in natural happenings in the brain. Talk of meaning though, has resisted interpretation in terms of anything that is clearly natural, such as linguistic dispositions. This, Kripke's Wittgenstein suggests, is because the concept of meaningis normative, on the "ought" side of Hume's d...

Allan Gibbard is Richard B. Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Reconciling our Aims: In Search of Bases for Ethics (OUP, 2008), Thinking How to Life (Harvard, 2003), and Wise Choices, Apt Feelings (Harvard/OUP, 1990).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:324 pagesPublished:October 8, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198708025

ISBN - 13:9780198708025

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Normativity and Community3. Kripke's Wittgenstein on Meaning4. Correct Belief5. Horwich on Meaning6. The Normative Meaning Role7. Reference, Truth, and Context8. Meaning and Plans9. Interpreting Interpretation10. Expressivism, Non-Naturalism, and UsAppendix 1: The Objects of BeliefAppendix 2: Schroeder on ExpressivismReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"the most ambitious and innovative attempt to explain meaning since Paul Horwich and Robert Brandom developed their theories in the nineties ... I hope that this splendid book will find a wide audience. It is wonderfully stimulating, opening up vast new territories for investigation." --Christopher S. Hill, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews