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Reconciling internalism and externalism through use

This thesis stems from two related problems within the Internalism-Externalism debate. First is the problem of intentionality: how is it that we are able to reach out to the world through language. The answer I believe is through use. The second problem relates to the possibility of scientific enquiry: whether or not it is possible to scientifically study the object of externalist inquiry, the use of language for instance. The kind of theory I try to point towards, both incorporates how we are able to reach out to the world through language; i.e. explains use, and also aims to do so scientifically. I arrive at this through various steps, the first of which is an interpretation of Wittgenstein’s use of ‘grammar’ as both constitutive of a proposition and involving an element of use. Further through an analysis of Horwich, I attempt to see whether it is possible to systematize a use theory of meaning. I move on to externalist referential semantics, specifically to minimal semantics, as it appears to incorporate both internalist as well as externalist elements. For a theory that was able to scientifically explain content ascription, I then turn to Davidson. Davidson’s decision theoretic account of what he called triangulation presents itself as a candidate to better explain how we ascribe a particular content to a particular word or sentence. This framework, I contend is exemplified in Pietroski et al.’s “Meaning of ‘Most’” experiments. I argue that Horwich’s use-properties could form the test statements for Pietroski-like experiments, which would yield a possible way to relate the use of a sentence to meaning and truth. And this result is only achieved with the important assumption that we are situated in a world which we share with others much like ourselves.
Date January 2015
CreatorsWorah, Pallavi
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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