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Truth and the Absence of Fact$
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Hartry Field

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199242894

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199242895.001.0001

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Attributions of Meaning and Content

Attributions of Meaning and Content

(p.157) 5 Attributions of Meaning and Content
Truth and the Absence of Fact

Hartry Field (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Is concerned with the special epistemological status possessed by attributions of meaning to sentences we understand: such attributions seem a priori, in a strong sense that includes empirical indefeasibility. What explains this special status? One explanation involves the idea that attributions of meaning (and of belief, etc.) express relations between an expression (or an agent) and a linguistic item in one's own language; in the special case of a meaning attribution to one's own language, the attribution is trivial. Argues that this linguistic view of attributions can be defended against well‐known objections. Also argues that alternatives in terms of propositions are perfectly acceptable, if suitably understood; they can even be developed in a way that accommodates Quinean doubts about interpersonal comparison, by viewing the propositions as ‘local entities’. But (whether or not one accepts the Quinean doubts), it is essential to view the assignment of propositions in a somewhat deflationary spirit, not altogether removed from a linguistic view of them, if the special epistemological status is to be explained.

Keywords:   belief, interpersonal synonymy, meaning, propositions, Quine, truth, truth‐conditions

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