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Meaning DiminishedToward Metaphysically Modest Semantics$
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Kenneth A. Taylor

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803447

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803447.001.0001

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Semantic Analysis and Metaphysical Inquiry

Semantic Analysis and Metaphysical Inquiry

(p.1) 1 Semantic Analysis and Metaphysical Inquiry
Meaning Diminished

Kenneth A. Taylor

Oxford University Press

This book is about the relationship between semantic analysis and metaphysical inquiry. Metaphysical theorizing is often bound up with semantic analyses of various target expressions, modes of discourse, forms of thought, or concepts. Semantic analyses of temporal language have played crucial dialectical roles in the debates over the metaphysics of time, while semantic analyses of belief and knowledge ascriptions have figured centrally in debates about the metaphysics of belief and knowledge. In this chapter, we take a brief initial tour of some of the ways in which semantic and conceptual analysis have been entangled with metaphysical inquiry throughout the history of philosophy. In the end, the very idea that semantic analysis can be expected to yield metaphysical insight is problematized by arguing that while semantic analysis may sometimes set the mood for metaphysics, it often raises metaphysical questions that it is powerless to answer.

Keywords:   linguistic turn, Kripke, Quine, Davidson, functionalism, Hume, positivism, expressivist semantics, fact-stating discourse, first philosophy

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