M  ✖ Metaontologie  ✖


Joshua D. Brown (2009)
Abstrakt: It is widely assumed in philosophy that there is a tight connection between semantics and metaphysics. Semantic theories about the meanings of natural language terms and phrases are taken to provide evidence for and against various metaphysical theses about the nature of non-linguistic parts of the world. Call this view the widespread thesis. I argue that the widespread thesis is mistaken: semantic theories do not generally have robust metaphysical consequences. I contend that the best arguments for the widespread thesis turn on an interpretation of semantic theories according to which they are metaphysically illuminating: the metaphysical structure of the world is directly mirrored in the structure of the theory. Terms and existential quantification in the theory signal the existence of entities in the world, predicates signal the existence of properties, and the structures of set theoretic objects invoked by the theory directly correspond to structural features of the world. Such an interpretation is not the only one available, however, and it is a substantive philosophical (and linguistic) issue which interpretation is correct. Accordingly, I develop and defend an alternative interpretation of semantic theories according to which the structural features of these theories and of their theorems reflect biological and computational constraints on the architecture of the language faculty and historical contingencies in its evolutionary development. Supposedly metaphysically committing features of the theory—including the appearance of quantification and (ostensibly) referring terms—may thus be arepresentational artifacts of these constraints, rather than representational features that reflect metaphysical reality. To determine the metaphysical consequences of a semantic theory then, we must determine which of its features represent language-independent characteristics of the world and which are arepresentational consequences of the structure of the language faculty. To do this, however, we must have some prior idea what the language-independent world is like—that is, we must engage in prior metaphysical theorizing that is not beholden to the semantic theory itself.
Název: From Semantics to Metaphysics.
philosophy of language Issue Date: 2009
vznik lístku: srpen 2011