Volume 17, Issue 3, 2017
On Stephen Neale’s manuscript "Silent Reference"
Value Disagreement and Two Aspects of Meaning
The problem of value disagreement and contextualist, relativist and metalinguistic attempts of solving it are laid out. Although the metalinguistic account seems to be on the right track, it is argued that it does not sufficiently explain why and how disagreements about the meaning of evaluative terms are based on and can be decided by appeal to existing social practices. As a remedy, it is argued that original suggestions from Putnam’s “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’” ought to be taken seriously. The resulting dual aspect theory of meaning can explain value disagreement in much the same way as it deals with disagreement about general terms. However, the account goes beyond Putnam’s by not just defending a version of social externalism, but also defending the thesis that the truth conditional meaning of many evaluative terms is not fixed by experts either and instead constantly contested as part of a normal function of language.