Neo-Pragmatist (Practice-Based) Theories of Meaning



In recent years, several systematic theories of linguistic meaning have been offered that give pride of place to linguistic practice, or the process of linguistic communication. Often these theories are referred to as neo-pragmatist or new pragmatist; I call them ‘practice-based’. According to practice-based theories of meaning, the process of linguistic communication is somehow constitutive of, or otherwise essential for the existence of, propositional linguistic meaning. Moreover, these theories disavow, or downplay, the semantic importance of inflationary notions of representation. I introduce the basic ideas and motives behind some practice-based theories of meaning, and offer some reasons why an eliminativist, non-quietist, epistemic practice-based approach to meaning that 1) disavows any explanatory role for the linguistic community as such, 2) prioritizes sentence meaning over word meaning, and 3) may, in the end, be naturalistic, should be favored over its practice-based competitors.