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Meaning and Ostension: From Putnam's Semantics to Contextualism

Abstract : Putnam is known for having demonstated the existence of a new form of context-dependence, namely that which characterizes natural kind terms (and possibly others as well). Terms like ‘tiger' and ‘water' are indexical, Putnam says, since their conditions of application (i.e. the property something has to possess in order to be in the extension of the term) varies with the context of use — in a suitably broad sense of ‘context'. In this talk I focus on the relation between Putnam's semantics and a body of views I call ‘contextualism'. Contextualism generalizes context-sensitivity : it claims that sentences carry contents only in the context of a speech act. This view was put forward by ordinary language philosophers in the mid-twentieth century, and it has re-surfaced in recent times in the works of philosophers like John Searle, Charles Travis, and myself. In the talk I argue that Putnam's semantics has strong affinities with contextualism.
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Contributor : François Recanati <>
Submitted on : Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 9:32:41 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 9:58:02 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Saturday, April 3, 2010 - 8:43:51 PM


  • HAL Id : ijn_00000599, version 1



François Recanati. Meaning and Ostension: From Putnam's Semantics to Contextualism. 2005. ⟨ijn_00000599⟩



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