Northwestern University

Fri 4:00 PM

Philosophy Colloquia Series: Ernest Lepore (Rutgers University)

When: Friday, April 21, 2017
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM  

Where: University Hall, 122, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Jasmine Hatten   847.491.3656

Group: Philosophy Colloquia Series

Category: Academic


Title: “Malapropisms, Metaphors, Nonsense and Neologisms: Convention before Communication”

I will defend the surprising, yet old-fashioned, idea that convention is essential to communication. But first I will be looking at the evidence Davidson provides for a contrary idea, namely, that there is improvised (and so, non-conventional) meaning. Davidson wants to convince us that communication can be successful even when the meaning a speaker wants to get across is completely improvised on an occasion of use as well as completely new to interpreters. He offers a range of examples in support of this idea, each intended as an intuitive basis for thinking that improvised meaning is crucial in language: malapropisms, nonsense and neologisms. I will work through these cases critically, rethinking the intuitions surrounding them. I will try to convince you that when you look closely at them, you will not find any improvised meaning, in Davidson’s sense. Accordingly, I hope to draw general lessons about meaning.

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