Volume 39, 2008
Philosophy of Language
Semantics without Metaphysics
Semantics and metaphysics are different. However, many philosophers maintain that the two are very closely related. Semantics is usually considered as a linguistic subject that deals with the meanings of linguistic expressions. Metaphysics, on the other hand, is a philosophical enterprise that purports to explore the nature of the world and to describe the structures and constituents of it. It is not difficult to see why the two distinct areas can merge so intimately together. After all, we all agree that human languages and the world we know are closely connected. Because of this, some philosophers approach the topics of linguistic issues from the metaphysical perspectives and construct their theses of philosophical semantics based on their metaphysical standpoints. It naturally results in
various confusions of the semantic debates and projects with the metaphysical ones. This paper aims to explore the confusions which lie between semantics and metaphysics and to suggest that we can execute the semantic project successfully without taking up any metaphysical dispute.