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Language and philosophy from Frege to the present.


This chapter, by four authors, traces the rise, development, critique, and demise of a diversity of theoretical stances in philosophy and linguistic meaning from 1880-2000, e.g.,

— modern logic, formal semantics, the linguistic turn in philosophy, truth-conditional semantics, intensional logic, possible world-semantics, categorial (Montague) grammar and ‘generalized quantifiers’;

— logical positivism and its critiques, ‘analytic’ statements, ‘radical interpretation’, ‘truth-theoretical semantics’, ‘proof-theoretical semantics’;

— psychological accounts of meaning, communitarian agreement; proper names as ‘rigid designators’; reference fixing vs. the properties of a ‘kind’ in all possible worlds;

— the ‘cognitive’ era: meaning as a property of mental states (’concepts’), the philosophy of mind, the naturalization program, intentional generalizations with a computationalist view, ‘narrow’ and ‘broad’ concepts of meaning, and the functions of informational structures.

— Speech Act Theory and pragmatics: ‘ordinary language philosophy’; performance in a context, felicity conditions, intentional and conventional aspects, communicative intentions, conventional meanings, the Cooperative principle, and inferences from conversational implicatures; presumption of rationality, ‘relevance theory’, combining pragmatics and a theory of mind; Discourse Analysis (Birmingham and Geneva School); enunciation theory; intersubjectivity; ‘polyphonic’ notion of subject, argumentative values, scales, and beliefs, Topoi Theory and the ‘theory of semantic blocks’.


Fortis, J.-M., Ambroise, B., Léon, J. et Marion, M. (2023). Language and philosophy, from Frege to the present. Dans J. E. Joseph, L. R. Waugh et M. Monville-Burston (dir.), The Cambridge history of linguistics (p. 656-681). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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B Ambroise
J.-M. Fortis
J. Léon