THE RATIONALIST FOUNDATIONS OF CHALMERS'S 2-D SEMANTICS


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Abstract

In “Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics”, David Chalmers seeks to develop a version of 2-D semantics which can vindicate the rationalist claim that there are constitutive connections between meaning, possibility and apriority. Chalmers lays out different ways of filling in his preferred epistemic approach to 2-D semantics so as to avoid controversial philosophical assumptions. In these comments, however, I argue that there are some distinctively rationalist commitments in Chalmers's epistemic approach to 2-D semantics. I start by explaining why Chalmers's approach requires a canonical language that affords subjects accurate a priori access to the space of possibility. I then argue that traditional worries about rationalism will simply re-emerge as worries about whether there can be a canonical vocabulary and how we could come to recognize one if there were. The moral is that Chalmers's 2-D semantic framework builds in substantive metaphysical and epistemological commitments which stand in need of further defense.

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