Philosophy 290-1

Spring 2016

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-1 Graduate Seminar: Rule-following and the normativity of meaning Ginsborg F 3-5 234 Moses

In his 1982 book, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Kripke claims that the relation between the meaning of an expression and its use is normative rather than descriptive. This claim has prompted a lively debate about the so-called “normativity of meaning” and the associated thesis, also sometimes ascribed to Kripke, that mental content is normative. Do ascriptions of meaning and content have implications for how people ought to use expressions or what propositional attitudes they should be in, and, if so, what are the implications for reductionist accounts of meaning and content? In this seminar we will investigate this debate with an eye to the question of what it might mean to say that meaning is normative: in particular, what Kripke meant by it, and what Kripke’s interpreters have understood him to mean by it. By looking at the normativity thesis in the context of Kripke’s interpretation of Wittgenstein, we will try to get clearer about some of the positions in the debate and about whether meaning really is normative in a sense which poses a threat to semantic reductionism. We will begin by reading Wittgenstein and Kripke; subsequent readings are yet to be determined, but are likely to include writings by some of the following: Boghossian, Millikan, McDowell, Stroud, Horwich, Brandom, Gibbard, Hattiangadi, Glüer and Wikforss.