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Truth and Words$
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Gary Ebbs

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557936.001.0001

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How to Think about Words

How to Think about Words

(p.105) 4 How to Think about Words
Truth and Words

Gary Ebbs (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The Tarski–Quine thesis and the Intersubjectivity Constraint appear incompatible. This chapter argues that the appearance is rooted in our acceptance of a standard conception of words, according to which the word-type of a word-token is determined by its spelling or pronunciation in combination with explanatory facts about how the word is used. Drawing on work by Nelson Goodman and David Kaplan, the chapter constructs an alternative conception of words that is governed by a context principle according to which one should never ask for the word-type of a word-token in isolation, but only in the context of one's practical judgments of sameness of satisfaction for that word-token. The chapter presents a conception of words that obeys this context principle, and shows that if we adopt this alternative conception of words, we can satisfy the Intersubjectivity Constraint without rejecting the Tarski–Quine thesis.

Keywords:   conceptions of words, context principle, Goodman, intersubjectivity, Kaplan, sameness of satisfaction, Quine, replicas, Tarski, words

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