Semantic Deference vs Semantic Coordination
Laura Schroeter (University of Melbourne), Francois Schroeter (University of Melbourne)

March 19, 2015, 12:15pm - 2:15pm
Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

G16 (Jim Potter Room)
Old Physics Building

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It’s widely accepted that social facts about an individual’s linguistic community can affect both the reference of her words and the concepts (or idiolect meanings) those words express. Putnam and Burge took these social dependence claims to constitute a radical departure from traditional accounts of the determination of reference and the individuation of representational state types. But theorists sympathetic to the internalist tradition have argued that they can explain the data without altering their core theoretical commitments. All that Putnam and Burge have shown, they contend, is that some concepts are deferential: the subject’s criteria for applying the concept appeal to facts about her actual social environment. On this view, semantic facts still depend in a straightforward way on an individual’s internal states. In this paper, I sketch a different explanation of social dependence phenomena, according to which all concepts are individuated in part by facts about the subject’s social and historical environment. This account, I suggest, fits better with the epistemic motivations behind the original externalist arguments.

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