Kripke's skeptical paradox and semantic normativity
Pacyga, Christopher Mark
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According to Saul Kripke's book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language , recognition of the so-called normativity of meaning produces a condition of adequacy for theories of meaning constitution, disqualifying dispositional theories of meaning in particular. However, as subsequent debate has demonstrated, no one has yet produced a clear and convincing account of what semantic normativity amounts to, whether Kripke's claims are correct, or how an adequacy condition stemming from it might be applied. In this work I attempt to articulate a clear account of the normative role of meanings that does entail a significant constraint on semantic theory. And, as partial vindication of Kripke's work, I find that this constraint does disqualify dispositional theories of meaning constitution. I begin with an interpretation of Kripke's famous skeptical paradox about meaning in order to show its connection to claims about semantic normativity. Doing so also establishes the framework necessary for assessing various conceptions of normativity in meaning, and clarifying the normative role of meanings from which a constraint on semantic theories might be produced. Next, I distinguish five conceptions of semantic normativity as found in the relevant literature, based respectively on appeals to rules, truth, linguistic correctness, transtemporal consistency and the satisfaction of intentions. I find that none of these conceptions successfully produces a serious constraint on semantic theory. After this, I introduce my account of the normative role of meanings, and from it formulate a constraint applicable to semantic theory. On this account, the so-called normativity of meaning is spelled out in terms of a justification requirement connecting speakers to their meaningful uses of words. I propose that in order for a speaker's use of a term to be meaningful, the speaker's use of the term must be justified. And in order for a speaker's use of a term to be justified, it must at least be the case that the speaker is in a position to know what she means by it. I find that the resulting epistemic access requirement is strong enough to ground a constraint disqualifying dispositionalism.