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Analytic Philosophy in AmericaAnd Other Historical and Contemporary Essays$
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Scott Soames

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691160726

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691160726.001.0001

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Language, Meaning, and Information

Language, Meaning, and Information

A Case Study on the Path from Philosophy to Science

(p.60) 3 Language, Meaning, and Information
Analytic Philosophy in America

Scott Soames

Princeton University Press

This chapter is a case study of the process by which the attempt to solve philosophical problems sometimes leads to the birth of new domains of scientific inquiry. It traces how advances in logic and the philosophy of mathematics, starting with Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, provided the foundations for what became a rigorous and scientific study of language, meaning, and information. After sketching the early stages of the story, it explains the importance of modal logic and “possible worlds semantics” in providing the foundation for the last half century of work in linguistic semantics and the philosophy of language. It argues that this foundation is insufficient to support the most urgently needed further advances. It proposes a new conception of truth-evaluable information as inherently representational cognitive acts of certain kinds. The chapter concludes by explaining how this conception of propositions can be used to illuminate the notion of truth; vindicate the connection between truth and meaning; and fulfill a central, but so far unkept, promise of possible worlds semantics.

Keywords:   analytic philosophy, scientific inquiry, logic, mathematics, linguistic semantics, philosophy of language, truth

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