Volume 39, 2008
Philosophy of Language
Inferentialism, compositionality and the thickness of meaning
The aim of this paper is to introduce Robert Brandom’s Inferentialism (Inferential theory of meaning) and Fodor and Lepore’ compositionality objection, and to protect Inferentialism from the objection based on compositionality. According to Inferentialism, To grasp or understand a concept is to have practical mastery over the inferences in which it is involved. However, Fodor and Lepore oppose Inferentialism by offering the compositionality objection. They argue that compositionality is needed to explain productivity, systematicity and learnability of language, meaning is compositional. Since inferential role is not compositional, however, meaning is not an inferential role. Against Fodor and Lepore’s objection, I present Brandom’s responses and develop my own views.