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Relative Truth$
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Manuel García-Carpintero and Max Kölbel

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199234950

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199234950.001.0001

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Content Relativism and Semantic Blindness

Content Relativism and Semantic Blindness

Chapter:
(p.265) 12 Content Relativism and Semantic Blindness
Source:
Relative Truth
Author(s):

Herman Cappelen (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199234950.003.0012

For some relativists some of the time the evidence for their view presents a puzzling data pattern. On the one hand, there's evidence that the terms in question exhibit some kind of content stability across contexts. On the other hand, there's evidence that their contents vary from one context of use to another. The challenge is to reconcile these two sets of data. Truth-relativists claim that their theory can do so better than contextualism and invariantism. Truth-relativists, in effect, use an argument to the best explanation: they present data that they claim to be able to handle better than any competing theory. This chapter focuses on how semanticists should react to this allegedly puzzling data pattern. It argues that what generates the appearance of a puzzle is a mistaken assumption about the relationship between semantic content and speech act content (i.e., the relationship between semantic content and what speakers assert, say, and claim). When this mistaken assumption is corrected for, any semantics can deal with this data pattern. It doesn't cut either way with respect to the debate between the contextualist, the invariantist, and the truth-relativist.

Keywords:   language, semantics, speech-act pluralism, relativism, truth-relativists

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