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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 2, 2017

Speaking about the normativity of meaning

Lo Presti Patrizio
From the journal SATS

Abstract

Contemporary debate on the nature of meaning centres on whether meaning is normative. Agreement is widespread that meaning implies correctness, but disagreement on whether correctness is normative remains. Normativists argue that correctness implies obligations or permissions. Anti-normativists disagree and hold that correctness is a descriptive term. This paper argues that, fundamentally, meaning presupposes norms, but not in the generic normativist sense: a vocabulary is recognisable as part of a language if and only if it is part of a practice of committing and entitling to ask for and provide reasons for what is said. To commit and entitle is not obliged or permitted. It is a presupposition for speaking about obligations and permissions.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers at SATS for comments and suggestions that helped to improve several formulations. I’m also indebted to Martin Jönsson and Johannes Brandl for thorough criticism on earlier versions.

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Published Online: 2017-9-2
Published in Print: 2017-9-26

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