LINGUIST List 15.1253

Mon Apr 19 2004

Books: Semantics: Barker

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  1. tom.perridge, Renewing Meaning: Barker

Message 1: Renewing Meaning: Barker

Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 11:49:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: tom.perridge <>
Subject: Renewing Meaning: Barker

Title: Renewing Meaning
Subtitle: A Speech-Act Theoretic Approach

Publication Year: 2004
Publisher:	Oxford University Press

Book URL:

Author: Stephen J. Barker, Department of Philosophy, University of

Hardback: ISBN: 0199263663, Pages: 338, Price: U.K. � 45.00


At the birth of analytic philosophy Frege created a paradigm that is
centrally important to how meaning has been understood in the
twentieth century. Frege invented the now familiar distinctions of
sense and force, of sense and reference, of concept and object. He
introduced the conception of sentence meaning as residing in
truth-conditions and argued that semantics is a normative enterprise
distinct from psychology. Most importantly, he created modern
quantification theory, engendering the idea that the syntactic and
semantic forms of modern logic underpin the meanings of
natural-language sentences. Stephen Barker undertakes to overthrow
Frege's paradigm, rejecting all the above-mentioned features.

The framework he offers is a speech-act-based approach to meaning in
which semantics is entirely subsumed by pragmatics. In this framework:
meaning resides in syntax and pragmatics; sentence-meanings are not
propositions but speech-act types; word-meanings are not objects,
functions, or properties, but again speech-act types; pragmatic
phenomena one would expect not to figure in semantics, such as
pretence, enter into the logical form of sentences; a compositional
semantics is provided by showing how speech-act types combine together
to form complex speech-act types; the syntactic structures invoked are
not those of quantifiers, open sentences, variables, variable-binding,
etc., rather they are structures specific to speech-act forms, which
link logical form and surface grammar very closely.

According to Barker, a natural language -- a system of thought -- is
an emergent entity that arises from the combination of simple
intentional structures, and certain non-representational cognitive
states. It is embedded in, and part of, a world devoid of normative
facts qua extra-linguistic entities. The world, in which the system is
embedded, is a totality of particular states of affairs. There is no
logical complexity *in re*; it contains mereological complexity
only. Some truths have truth-makers, but others, logically complex
truths, lack them. Nevertheless, the truth-predicate is univocal in

*Renewing Meaning* is a radical, ambitious work which offers to
transform the semantics of natural language.

Lingfield(s):	Philosophy of Language
Written In:	English (Language Code: ENG)

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