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Objects of Inquiry in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics

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Edited By Piotr Stalmaszczyk

This book investigates possible common objects of inquiry in philosophy of language and literature. The topics discussed include proper names (analyzed from different theoretical perspectives), fictional names, truth in fiction, ontological status and metaphysics of fictional characters, metaphor, representation, interpretation, and other issues connecting research in philosophy of language with philosophy of literature. Theoretical frameworks include Millian semantics, Fregean semantics, hybrid semantics, realism, antirealism, and metaphorical expressivism.

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Metaphor, Truth, and Representation (Richmond Kwesi)

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Richmond Kwesi

University of Ghana, Ghana

Metaphor, Truth, and Representation1

Abstract: Do metaphorical sentences express facts or represent states of affairs in the world? Can a metaphorical statement tell us ‘what there is’? These questions raise the issue of whether metaphors can be used to make truth-claims; that is, whether metaphors can be regarded as assertions that can be evaluated as true or false. Some theorists on metaphor have argued for a negative answer to the above-mentioned questions. They have claimed, among others, that metaphorical utterances are non-descriptive uses of language (Blackburn 1998); truth is not the constitutive aim of metaphors (Lamarque and Olsen 1994); metaphorical sentences do not have propositional contents (Davidson 1979; Cooper 1986; Rorty 1987, 1989; Lepore and Stone 2010, 2015); metaphorical utterances are neither assertions nor expressions of beliefs (Loewenberg 1973, 1975; Davies 1982; Davies 1984; Blackburn, 1984). I discuss a particular view, Metaphorical Expressivism, which exploits the relationship between truth, belief and assertion, and argues for the irrelevancy of truth to metaphors on the premise that metaphorical utterances do not count as assertions and that they do not count as the expression of beliefs. The denial of the truth-evaluability of metaphors on this view, I argue, is a product of an unmotivated tendency to see truth and meaning in terms of the portrayal of facts and a commitment to two untenable principles: literalism and representationalism.

Keywords: metaphor, truth, assertion, Representationalism, Literalism, Expressivism

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