Edited By Martin Hinton
Mark Pinder - Folk Semantic Intuitions, Arguments from Reference and Eliminative Materialism
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University of Hertfordshire
Folk Semantic Intuitions, Arguments from Reference and Eliminative Materialism
According to Edouard Machery, Ron Mallon, Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich (henceforth MMNS), arguments from reference are “arguments that derive philosophically significant conclusions from the assumption of one or another theory of reference” (Mallon et al. 2009: 332).
Here, a theory of reference is a theory that seeks to provide a systematic basis upon which worldly items are assigned to some collection of words and phrases, or to the concepts they express. We will be concerned with two principal types. First, descriptivist theories of reference hold that competent speakers associate reference-fixing descriptions with the relevant terms or concepts, and that the referent of a given term or concept is whatever satisfies, or comes sufficiently close to satisfying, the relevant reference-fixing descriptions. Second, causal-historical theories of reference hold that a term or concept t refers to an entity x just in case there has been an appropriate causal chain of users acquiring t from other users, such that the chain began with an initial ‘baptism’ of x.
According to MMNS, arguments from reference can be found “in nearly every corner of philosophy, including the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of race, and meta-ethics” (Mallon et al. 2009: 332). Herein, I focus on one of their principal examples: an argument offered by Paul Churchland (1981) in defence...
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