Metalinguistic disputes, semantic decomposition, and externalism

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In componential analysis, word meanings are (partly) decomposed into other meanings, and semantic and syntactic markers. Although a theory of word meaning based on such semantic decompositions remains compatible with the linguistic labor division thesis, it is not compatible with Kripke/Putnam-style indexical externalism. Instead of abandoning indexical externalism, a Separation Thesis is defended according to which lexical meaning need not enter the truth-conditional content of an utterance. Lexical meaning reflects beliefs about word meaning shared in a speaker community, and these may rest on possibly erroneous world-level theories. It is argued that this type of lexical meaning is indispensable for explaining word composition processes and the rationality of metalinguistic disputes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65–85
Number of pages21
JournalLinguistics and Philosophy
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Componential analysis
  • Lexical meaning
  • Metalinguistic negotiation
  • Semantic externalism
  • Semantic internalism
  • Twin Earth


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