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The 'ought's of use: contextualist considerations for normativists

Nettel, E.P.; (2011) The 'ought's of use: contextualist considerations for normativists. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis argues that considerations that concern contextualists in the philosophy of language can allow for a conception of language use in which meaning is to be properly regarded as intrinsically normative. I first introduce the idea that meaning is intrinsically normative and set out just what kind of features the posited norms would have to have. I then introduce an initial problem that exploits an incompatibility between the idea that the requirements laid down by the norms of meaning are to be understood in terms of hypothetical imperatives and meaning being intrinsically normative. I then discuss a reason for thinking that semantic correctness is an instrumental value, but contend that this is consistent with meaning being intrinsically normative, and present a framework in which semantic correctness can be so thought of. This framework conceives of language use as a practice. I go on to look to arguments by DanielWhiting in favour of the Normativity Thesis, but find his presentation unable to answer the incompatibility argument. The reason for that is that Whiting accepts the idea that meaningful expressions must have conditions for correct application. I propose that there is space for a notion of conditions for semantic correctness that should not be understood in terms of correct application. Finally, I discuss some traditional semantic contextualist concerns, and show that interpreting them in a specific way, following, to various degrees of success, insights by P. F. Strawson and J. L. Austin (and, in turn Charles Travis) such a conception of semantic correctness, in contrast to the understanding of it in terms of the correct application of terms, is understood as derivative of the rules governing the practice of language use as understood in Chapter 1. Such an understanding, I argue, is one in which meaning is intrinsically normative.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: The 'ought's of use: contextualist considerations for normativists
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1334586
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