What Incompleteness Arguments are and What They are Not



Cappelen and Lepore (2005) maintain that Incompleteness Arguments for context sensitivity are fallacious. In their view, Incompleteness Arguments are non sequitur fallacies whose conclusions are not logically related to premises. They affirm that the conclusions of Incompleteness Arguments are metaphysical claims about the existence of entities that might be constituents of propositions, while their premises concern psychological data about speakers' dispositions to truth evaluate sentences in contexts of utterance. Cappelen and Lepore reject Incompleteness Arguments because psychological data have no bearing on metaphysical issues. I do not dispute Cappelen and Lepore's claim that psychological data have no relevance to metaphysics. Nonetheless, I argue that Cappelen and Lepore's criticism is vitiated by a misunderstanding of the nature of Incompleteness Arguments that makes them overlook the link between semantics and linguistic competence. I try to shed light on the real nature of Incompleteness Arguments by pointing at the failure of Cappelen and Lepore's criticism. My aim is not to defend Semantic Contextualism, but to bring to attention the link between semantics and linguistic competence that should never be overlooked in debates in the field of semantics.