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On Reference$
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Andrea Bianchi

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714088.001.0001

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The Illusion of Semantic Reference

The Illusion of Semantic Reference

Chapter:
(p.21) 1 The Illusion of Semantic Reference
Source:
On Reference
Author(s):

Christopher Gauker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714088.003.0002

Many contemporary philosophers of language have given up on the idea that there will be a satisfactory analysis of the relation of reference in terms of which referential semantics explicates truth and meaning, and so have resolved to formulate their theories of meaning and communication without appeal to reference. Still, there is a resilient intuition to the effect that one knows what the terms of his or her language refer to, that is, their extensions. This chapter explicates that intuition without yielding to it. The intuition that one knows the extension is found to rest on the intuition that one knows the meanings of his or her words. But we can have a “skeptical” account of what it is to “know the meaning” of a word, a variety of meaning skepticism. It takes the form of an account of the status that is granted to a person in saying that he or she “knows the meaning” of a word.

Keywords:   reference, extension, referential semantics, meaning skepticism

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