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Volume 34, 2017

Meaning and Publicity

Gary Kemp
Pages 59-72

Quine, Publicity, and Pre-Established Harmony

‘Linguistic meaning must be public’ – for Quine, here is not a statement to rest with, whether it be reckoned true or reckoned false. It calls for explication. When we do, using Quine’s words to piece together what he thought, we find that much too much is concealed by the original statement. Yes, Quine said ‘Language is a social art’; yes, he accepts behaviourism so far as linguistic meaning is concerned; yes, he broadly agrees with Wittgenstein’s anti-privacy stricture. But precisely what is being said by the original statement to be public, and what does calling it ‘public’ amount to? Pressing such questions complicates the picture enormously, partly though by no means entirely aligning Quine with linguistic internalism vis-à-vis Chomsky.

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