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Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World$
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Kenneth L. Pearce

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790334

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790334.001.0001

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Quasi‐Referring to Bodies

Quasi‐Referring to Bodies

(p.97) 6 Quasi‐Referring to Bodies
Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World

Kenneth L. Pearce

Oxford University Press

It is widely held that, in Berkeley’s view, bodies (ordinary macro-physical objects) are either ideas or collections of ideas. This interpretation underestimates just how radical Berkeley’s claims in metaphysics and philosophy of language are. Berkeley’s fundamental criticism of materialism is that it supposes that in order for the names of bodies to be meaningful and occur in true sentences these names must label entities that exist and have a nature independent of our linguistic activities. Berkeley rejects this claim and holds instead that the names of bodies, like the theoretical terms of physics, are mere quasi-referring expressions. The existence of bodies is a product of our linguistic practice.

Keywords:   George Berkeley, physical objects, metaphysics, philosophy of language, reference

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