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robert s. tragesser

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


There are two principal ways in which words or signs are given meaning, ‘by ostension’ and ‘by convention’. In meaning by ostension words or signs of a language are assigned entities as their meaning, e.g. mental entities such as ideas, experiences, concepts or non-mental entities such as concrete things, classes, functions, universals. Generally speaking , the entities assigned are so chosen that it will make sense to ask ‘Is s true (of the world)?’ for sentences s in the language at issue, as when, for example, in ‘Cynthia's ring is gold’, ‘Cynthia's ring’ is assigned Cynthia's ring, and ‘is gold’ is assigned a function from each and every thing in the world to True or False according as that thing is gold or not. Solely for our convenience here, let us call this sort of truth 0-truth. In meaning by convention words or signs of a language have meaning by virtue of more or less explicit rules for the use of the words or signs in relation to one another. The meaning of a word in this sense will not lie in an entity assigned to it, but will lie wholly in its rule-governed use with respect to other words or signs. Generally speaking (but not always), it is supposed that the language has a logical or logic-like syntax and that the rules for the use of the words or signs are rules for logical or logic-like operations (e.g. those generating formal-logical ‘deductions’ ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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