Masters of Our Meanings
Braddon-Mitchell (David)
Source: Philosophical Studies, Vol. 118, No. 1/2, The Two-Dimensional Framework and Its Applications: Metaphysics, Language, and Mind (Mar., 2004), pp. 133-152
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. The two-dimensional framework in semantics has the most power and plausibility when combined with a kind of global semantic neo-descriptivism. If neo-descriptivism can be defended on the toughest terrain - the semantics of ordinary proper names - then the other skirmishes should be easier.
  2. This paper defends neo-descriptivism against two important objections:
    1. that the descriptions may be inaccessibly locked up in sub-personal modules, and thus not accessible a priori, and
    2. that in any case all such modules bottom out in purely causal mechanisms, and that thus an extemalist causal metasemantic theory will best account for them.
  3. I agree both that many descriptions are in some sense modularized, and that they bottom out in causal mechanisms. But I argue that these are not the relevant descriptions that two-dimensionalism trades in, and which make us, in an important sense, masters of our meanings.

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