SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

What are Words?
(Philosophy of Language, English)

In my paper I present and examine possible accounts of metaphysics of words. Cappelen (1999) divides theories in metaphysics of words into two categories: intentional and non-intentional. The theory is intentional if it says that it is a necessary or a sufficient condition for an entity being a token of a word that its producer was in a certain intentional state at the production time. A theory is non-intentional, if it denies such conditions. The main proponent of intentionalism is David Kaplan (Kaplan 1990, Kaplan 2011). Among non-intentional theories of words most influential are Platonic Type-Token Model (TTM; Katz 2000, Wetzel 2009) and Cappelen's own Conventional Theory (CT). Both individuate words tokens in virtue of their physical and semantic properties. They specify different grounds of these tokening conditions (Epstein 2006). In case of TTM grounds are intrinsic, whereas in CT tokening conditions are grounded in extrinsic conventions.

I argue that non-intentional theories of words face serious problems. First of all, tokening conditions based on physical similarity of tokens of the same word-type are hard to defend, since two tokens of the same word can differ in spelling (like 'color' and 'colour') and pronunciation (like 'schedule' in British and American English). Words can also change their meaning through time. Moreover, grounding of these tokening conditions in conventions does not help. There is a variety of nonstandard articulations of a word, hence the assumption that there is a convention grounding tokening conditions of each of them is implausible. Competent speakers would have to know them to communicate. But it seems that our communication skills are based not on the knowledge of such conventions but on our competence of intentions ascription (similar to Strawson 1962). Such a competence is essential for interpretation of ambiguous sentences. I will show that only intentional theory can avoid problems concerning ambiguity in communication.

Chair: Eduardo Pérez-Navarro
Time: 14:00-14:30, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.006

Maciej Głowacki 
(University of Warsaw, Poland)

I am a student of philosophy and mathematics at University of Warsaw. I am interested in philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics and logic. Currently, my main area of interest is metaphysics of linguistic entities and phenomenon of self-reference.

Testability and Meaning deco