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Oughts and ThoughtsScepticism and the Normativity of Meaning$
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Anandi Hattiangadi

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199219025

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199219025.001.0001

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Norms and Normativity

Norms and Normativity

(p.37) 3 Norms and Normativity
Oughts and Thoughts

Anandi Hattiangadi (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter lays out the meta-ethical arguments and assumptions Kripke would need to make in order to remove the gaps in the sceptical argument as he presents it. It considers a more detailed account of the thesis that meaning is normative and its role in the sceptical argument. It argues that the assumption that meaning is normative does not follow directly from semantic realism, but from the assumption that understanding the meaning of a word is analogous to following a rule for its correct use. This, however, gives rise to two alternative interpretations of the claim that meaning is normative: Norm-Relativity and Normativity. It then argues that if meaning is normative, arguments commonly made in meta-ethics with regard to moral statements, can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to meaning statements. These arguments can be made against both reductive and non-reductive accounts of the facts that putatively make meaning ascriptions true. If the sceptic is entitled to the thesis that meaning is normative, and if he is entitled to certain meta-ethical claims, he seems to be able to argue, a priori, that there is no fact of the matter to what anybody means. In contrast, if meaning is merely norm-relative, no such disastrous conclusion follows.

Keywords:   Kripke, sceptical argument, norm-relativity, normativity, non-factualism, meaning, semantic realism

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