Is Meaning Normative?
Version of Record online: 28 MAR 2006
Mind & Language
Volume 21, Issue 2, pages 220–240, April 2006
How to Cite
Hattiangadi, A. (2006), Is Meaning Normative?. Mind & Language, 21: 220–240. doi: 10.1111/j.0268-1064.2006.00312.x
- Issue online: 28 MAR 2006
- Version of Record online: 28 MAR 2006
Abstract: Many people claim that semantic content is normative, and that therefore naturalistic theories of content face a potentially insuperable difficulty. The normativity of content allegedly undermines naturalism by introducing a gap between semantic ‘ought's and the explanatory resources of naturalism. I argue here that this problem is not ultimately pressing for naturalists. The normativity thesis, I maintain, is ambiguous; it could mean either that the content of a term prescribes a pattern of use, or that it merely determines which pattern of use can be described as ‘correct’. For the anti-naturalist argument to go forward, content must be prescriptive. I argue, however, that it is not. Moreover, the thesis that content supplies standards for correct use is insufficient to supply a similar, a priori objection to naturalism.