Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 2, Issue 1, 2002

Nenad Smokrović
Pages 71-81

Semantic Naturalism and Normativity

In traditional semantic theory the meaning of a word or operator (logical constant) is permeated with normativity. It is held that if one grasps the meaning of a word (or logical constant), one ought to behave in a certain way. This view is labelled as normativism here. Normativists hold that meaning is intrinsically and irreducibly normative. The naturalistic approach to semantics, on the other hand, which tries to reconcile the traditional approach to meaning with a naturalistic world-view, has to naturalise the normative character ofmeaning. Naturalists employ several strategies of argumentation, two of which I deem to be particularly significant. These two strategies are exemplified by P. Horwich’s revisionistic and C. Peacocke’s reductionistic approaches. This paper elucidates and critiques the former. My criticism tries to show that Horwich’s theory does not offer a successful answer to the normativist challenge.

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