Book Chapter

How Meaning Might Be Normative



Millar A (2014) How Meaning Might Be Normative. In: Dutant J J, Fassio D & Meylan A (eds.) Liber Amicorum Pascal Engel. Geneva, Switzerland: University of Geneva, pp. 798-817.

The aim is (i) to outline an account what it is to grasp the meaning of a predicative term, and (ii) to draw on that account in an attempt to shed light on what the normativity of meaning might amount to. Central to the account is that grasping the meaning of a predicative term is a practical matter—it is knowing how to use it correctly in a way that implicates having an ability to use it correctly. This calls for an examination of what it is to use a term correctly. Two quite different types of correctness are liable to be conflated. Sections 2 and 3 show why they must be kept apart. Sections 4 and 5 consider how correctness of the second type might be conceived within a practice-theoretic framework and how that framework might make sense of the idea that meaning is essentially normative. The concluding section responds to an objection.

correctness of application; correctness as use in keeping with meaning; meaning; normativity; occasion-sensitivity; practices.

Publication date31/12/2014
PublisherUniversity of Geneva
Publisher URL…el/liberamicorum
Place of publicationGeneva, Switzerland

People (1)


Professor Alan Millar

Professor Alan Millar

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy