Living Words: Meaning Underdetermination and the Dynamic Lexicon

ISBN : 9780198712053

Peter Ludlow
208 Pages
147 x 223 mm
Pub date
May 2014
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Peter Ludlow shows how word meanings are much more dynamic than we might have supposed, and explores how meanings are modulated (changed) even during the course of our everyday conversations. When we engage with communicative partners we build micro-languages on the fly-languages that may be fleeting, but which serve our joint interests. Sometimes we sync up on word meanings without reflection, but in many cases we debate the proper modulation of the meanings of our words. Living Words explores the norms that govern the ways in which we litigate word meanings. The resulting view is radical, and Ludlow shows that it has far-reaching consequences for our political and legal discourse and also for some of the deepest and most intractable puzzles that have gripped English-language philosophy for the past 100 years-including puzzles in the foundations of semantics, epistemology, and logic.


1. Introduction
2. Norms of word meaning litigation
3. The Nature of the Dynamic Lexicon
4. Meaning Underdetermination, Logic, and Vagueness
5. Consequences for Analytic Philosophy
6. Metaphor and Beyond

About the author: 

Peter Ludlow is Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. He has written on topics ranging from metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of language, linguistics, and the foundations of cognitive science to conceptual issues involving digital culture, cyber rights, and the surveillance state. His most recent book was The Philosophy of Generative Linguistics (OUP, 2011).

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