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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 42, Issue 4, December 2002

Mark Bevir
Pages 493-508
DOI: 10.5840/ipq200242448

What Is a Text?
A Pragmatic Theory

The paper defends a principle of procedural individualism according to which meanings are always subjective or inter-subjective. Texts do not have meanings in themselves, but rather are objects to which individuals attach various meanings. The paper then deploys this analysis of meaning to address debates about textuality. It considers the stability of the text: although texts are indeterminate in that future individuals might attach unforeseen meanings to them, they have determinate content at any given time in that the meanings people have attached to them are fixed. And it considers the relationship of textual meaning to authorial meaning: authors and readers alike attach meanings to texts, with confusions arising when philosophers assume that one or the other must constitute the meaning of the text itself.

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