SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Do we really create our words?
(Philosophy of Language, English)

The metaphysics of words, as defined by Kaplan (1990), is meant to tell us about the ultimate nature of words and about the relationship between word-types and word-tokens. Among others, the fundamental questions in need of an answer are the followings (see Wetzel 2002):

(1) What are word-types?

(2) How should word-types be individuated?

(3) Under what conditions two word-tokens count as word-tokens of the same word-type?

In the present paper, I aim to take a closer look at question (1). It is a commonplace saying that there is little contemporary literature on the metaphysics of words (see Cappelen 1999; Alward 2005; Hawthorne and Lepore 2011; Irmak 2018); however, there are at least three main answers to question (1): Nominalism, Platonism and Artifactualism. In what follows, I only cursorily describe Nominalism and Platonism and highlight their notorious advantages and limitations. I do so because my real topic is Artifactualism, whose peculiarities emerge most clearly against the background of its competitors. According to Artifactualism, all words are non-eternal abstract artifacts intentionally created by humans. My aim here is to argue against such a thesis, although I accept other central claims made by artifactualists. At the end, I will conclude presenting my own proposal: an amendment of Artifactualism which I call quasi-Artifactualism. To be more exact: do we really create all our words? Contrary to Artifactualism, I will argue for a negative answer to this question. I claim that there are words we do not create which nevertheless are temporal abstracta, namely non-eternal abstract entities. Hence, as far as the metaphysical status of words is concerned, I propose an alternative explanation to both Nominalism and Platonism.

Chair: Eduardo Pérez-Navarro
Time: 14:40-15:10, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.006

Sandro Balletta 
(University of Genova, Italy)

I, Sandro Balletta, am a Ph.D. student at FiNO Consorium, Genova, Italy. I was born in Sicily, Italy in 1991 and had a scientific education at high school. I have completed my bachelor's and master's degree at Pisa University, Italy primarily studying philosophy of language and linguistics. During my Ph.D. program I moved to metaphysics, focusing on essential properties of linguistics entities such as words.

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