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ProtoSociology

Volume 34, 2017

Meaning and Publicity

Berit Brogaard
Pages 144-162

The Publicity of Meaning and the Perceptual Approach to Speech Comprehension

The paper presents a number of empirical arguments for the perceptual view of speech comprehension. It then argues that a particular version of phenomenal dogmatism can confer immediate justification upon belief. In combination, these two views can bypass Davidsonian skepticism toward knowledge of meanings. The perceptual view alone, however, can bypass a variation on the Davidsonian argument. One reason Davidson thought meanings were not truly graspable was that he believed meanings were private (unlike behavior). But if the perceptual view of speech comprehension is correct, then meanings (or at least conveyed meanings) are public objects like other perceivable entities. Hence, there is no particular problem of language comprehension, even if meanings originate in “private” mental states.

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