Coming to Our Senses: A Naturalistic Program for Semantic Localism

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Cambridge University Press, 1996 - Philosophy - 338 pages
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Michael Devitt is a distinguished philosopher of language. In this book he takes up one of the most important difficulties that must be faced by philosophical semantics: namely, the threat posed by holism. Three important questions lie at the core of this book: what are the main objectives of semantics; why are they worthwhile; how should we accomplish them? Devitt answers these 'methodological' questions naturalistically and explores what semantic programme arises from the answers. The approach is anti-Cartesian, rejecting the idea that linguistic or conceptual competence yields any privileged access to meanings. This new methodology is used first against holism. Devitt argues for a truth-referential localism, and in the process rejects direct-reference, two-factor, and verificationist theories. The book concludes by arguing against revisionism, eliminativism, and the idea that we should ascribe narrow meanings to explain behaviour.

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