Philosophy Research Seminar - Simon Walgenbach (University of Manchester)
|Dates:||9 December 2020|
|Times:||15:15 - 16:50|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
This year we are running all of our research seminars online using Zoom. If you would like to attend, and are not included on our events mailing list, please email Dr Stephen Ingram to request the Zoom meeting details.
Seminars will take place on Wednesdays, and will run from 15.15-16.50, with a 5 minute break between the talk and the Q&A. The Zoom meeting will be available to join from 15.00.
- There’s Glory for You: Taking Humpty Dumpty Apart
- In this talk, I discuss and reject a common objection against intentionalism about meaning, i.e. the claim that the meaning of an utterance (linguistic or otherwise) is determined by its utterer’s communicative intentions. It has often been held that intentionalism cannot be true because it would make meaning an arbitrary and individualistic matter independent of (e.g. linguistic) conventions, a point that is often illustrated by quoting the dialogue between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Drawing on the work of G.E.M. Anscombe and Donald Davidson, I argue that this objection rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of intentions, which essentially include a doxastic component about the efficacy of one’s actions. My discussion proceeds in two steps: first, I consider the case of Humpty Dumpty as a potential counterexample to intentionalism, arguing that it threatens neither the necessity nor the sufficiency of communicative intentions for utterance meaning; second, I consider Humpty Dumpty’s views on meaning as a potential undesirable consequence of intentionalism, arguing that it is not. I conclude that Humpty-Dumptyism is merely a strawman of intentionalism and that the accusation of it intentionalist need not worry about being accused of it.
Travel and Contact Information
This event will run online - contact Stephen Ingram for details on accessing the Zoom meeting.