The Social Aspect of Language
This essay clarifies the Davidson’s claim that “There is no such thing as language, not if a language is anything like what many philosophers and linguists have supposed”. It agrees with Dummett that a theory of meaning requires the Wittgensteinian distinction between using words correctly and merely thinking one is, between following a rule and believing one is following a rule; and that a grasp of this distinction requires social interaction. Communication is successful if the speaker is taken to mean what he wants to be taken to mean. What is needed is not a set of shared rules but that speaker and listener be able to correlate the speaker’s responses with the occurrence of a shared stimulus in their common world.
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