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Meaning Holism and Contextualism[s]: Friends or Foes?

Filip Kawczyński

Abstract

In the paper I give arguments to justify the thesis that-contrary to common opinion-there is no strong theoretical relation between Meaning Holism and Contextualism. I distinguish two holistic accounts: Global Holism and Local Holism, and I investigate what are the relations between them and various versions of Contextualism, namely Eliminativism, the Wrong Format View, and Moderate Contextualism. I show that: (1) Local and Global Holism are compatible with almost all (with merely one exception) versions of Contextualism; (2) Holism (in any version) neither entails nor is entailed by any version of Contextualism. Thus, I argue that when it comes to the issue of context-sensitivity, a meaning holist, either global or local, has a variety of options to choose between, and vice versa-being a contextualist of this or that kind one can choose to accept either Local or Global Holism, to accept both, or to avoid both. Except showing that the relation between Holism and Contextualism is weak, in the paper I also sketch several possible ways of modifying these theories to make them theoretically closer or more distant.

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