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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3RW79

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Compositionality and the Metaphysics of Meaning Open Access

Descriptions

Other title
Subject/Keyword
holism
fodor
philosophy
atomism
semantics
brandom
compositionality
Type of item
Thesis
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Fedorkiw, Jeffery
Supervisor and department
Pelletier, Francis Jeffry (Philosophy)
Examining committee member and department
Gagné, Christina (Psychology)
Brigandt, Ingo (Philosophy)
Linsky, Bernard (Philosophy)
Department
Department of Philosophy
Specialization

Date accepted
2011-08-23T14:54:59Z
Graduation date
2011-11
Degree
Master of Arts
Degree level
Master's
Abstract
The principle of compositionality states that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent parts and the way those parts are combined. Jerry Fodor has argued that semantic productivity and systematicity require compositionality and that compositionality requires atomism about semantic values. Atomism is here the thesis that there are simple meanings which are assigned to grammatical terms completely independent of any other (i.e. regardless of anything like context) and that users can grasp any one of these atomic meanings without grasping any other. This thesis argues against Fodor's claim through a defense of Robert Brandom's holistic semantics. I will argue that Brandom's semantics is able to account for linguistic productivity and systematicity without atomism, even though his molecular ontology of semantic values, whereby complex meanings are prior to simple ones, might at first seem intuitively less plausible than atomism.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R3RW79
Rights
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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