MASTERS OF OUR MEANINGS


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Abstract

The two-dimensional framework in semantics has the most power and plausibility when combined with a kind of global semantic neo-descriptivism. If neo-descriptivism can be defended on the toughest terrain – the semantics of ordinary proper names – then the other skirmishes should be easier. This paper defends neo-descriptivism against two important objections: that the descriptions may be inaccessibly locked up in sub-personal modules, and thus not accessible a priori, and that in any case all such modules bottom out in purely causal mechanisms, and that thus an externalist causal metasemantic theory will best account for them. I agree both that many descriptions are in some sense modularized, and that they bottom out in causal mechanisms. But I argue that these are not the relevant descriptions that two-dimensionalism trades in, and which make us, in an important sense, masters of our meanings.

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