Meaning and Normativity

Meaning and Normativity

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Description

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 meaning is 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 for normative 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 is to 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 expect from beings like us, complexly social products of natural selection who talk with each other.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 324 pages
  • 158 x 235 x 17mm | 438g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0198708025
  • 9780198708025
  • 1,857,477

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. Normativity and Community ; 3. Kripke's Wittgenstein on Meaning ; 4. Correct Belief ; 5. Horwich on Meaning ; 6. The Normative Meaning Role ; 7. Reference, Truth, and Context ; 8. Meaning and Plans ; 9. Interpreting Interpretation ; 10. Expressivism, Non-Naturalism, and Us ; Appendix 1: The Objects of Belief ; Appendix 2: Schroeder on Expressivism ; References ; Index
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Review quote

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 * The book is rich in original ideas and arguments, and the topics canvassed or commented on are significant and bewildering in their number ... serious students of the relevant topics should find its study rewarding, and clearly it is essential reading for anyone working on meaning and normativity. * Teemu Toppinen, Ethics *
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About Allan Gibbard

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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