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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 2, 2013

Michael Devitt
Pages 169-200

Good and Bad Bach

This paper is concerned with Bach’s stand on the “semantics-pragmatics” issue. A bit of Good Bach is his skepticism about the evidential role of intuitions. Another bit is his firm stand against the widespread confusion of what constitutes the meanings of utterances with how hearers interpret utterances. The paper argues at length against two bits of Bad Bach. (1) There is no sound theoretical motivation for his excluding the reference fixing of demonstratives, pronouns and names from “what-is-said”. (2) His methodology for deciding what is “semantic” is flawed in three respects: first, in its commitment to the mistaken Modified Occam’s Razor; second, in its placing inappropriate syntactic constraints on conventional meanings; and, third, in explaining many regularities in usage as standardizations rather than conventionalizations. This flawed methodology has the conservative effect of ruling out new meanings.

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