Necessity and meaning

Book chapter


Russell, Gillian. (2012). Necessity and meaning. In In Russell, Gillian and Graff Fara, Delia (Ed.). Routledge companion to philosophy of language pp. 782-794 Routledge.
AuthorsRussell, Gillian
EditorsRussell, Gillian and Graff Fara, Delia
Abstract

We can approach the topic of necessity and meaning by distinguishing three kinds of view about the relationship between modality—taken to include modal properties like necessity and possibility, and modal objects such as possible worlds and possibilia— and meaning. The first holds that modality is are rather mysterious and the best way to explain it (both metaphysically and epistemically) is in terms of more fundamental and accessible meaning properties. A famous example of this kind of view is the Linguistic Doctrine of Necessary Truth, according to which all necessary truth is to be explained in terms of analyticity (Ayer, 1936; Hempel, 1945; Goodman, 1955; Carnap, 1958).

A different kind of view holds instead that it is meanings which are mysterious, and the best way to understand them is in terms of more fundamental, and better understood, modal notions, such as those of worlds and possible objects. This approach reverses the direction of explanation and metaphysical dependence suggested by the positivists and a version can be found in Lewis (1976).

The third kind of view holds that semantic and modal notions do not mesh well enough for one to be entirely dependent on, or explained in terms of, the other. This view is of more recent provenance and reasons for it can be found in Thomason (1974), Kaplan (1989b), Soames (2004), King (2005), and Russell (2008).

There is room for more skeptical approaches than the three listed above; Quine had little time for full-blooded modal or semantic properties (Quine, 1951, 1953, 1966). But if there is no such thing as one, then it is straightforward to see that there will be no accounting for the other in terms of it, and so the focus of this chapter will be on what we are to make of the relationship between meaning and modality, on the assumption that both exist.

Page range782-794
Year2012
Book titleRoutledge companion to philosophy of language
PublisherRoutledge
Place of publicationNew York
London
ISBN9780415993104
9781136594083
9781138776180
Web address (URL)https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/acu/detail.action?&docID=1016038
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All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print24 Feb 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Sep 2021
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