Language and Ontology : A Reconstructive Study of the Analytic Philosophy of Language

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Spalletti, Federico
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The overarching aim of this project is an investigation of the relationship between language and ontology. For these reasons, my SIP should be seen as a reconstructive enterprise, one I undertook with the intents of telling a cohesive story about the evolution of the analytic philosophy of language, a story which would consequently help me understand the import of our present day ontological commitments. Since I came to discover the meaning of many of the concepts discussed throughout the essay as I wrote about them for the first time, this document's success will be dependent upon the accurate integration of the different contents and contexts which characterize the evolution of the analytic philosophy of language through the years, rather than in purporting some sort of original conclusion: its aim is to inform its audience of where we are now regarding questions of language and ontology. Since its inception, the analytic philosophy of language has tried to reconcile language and world, and each philosophical school herein discussed presents widely distinct approaches to the subject matter in question. To improve the story's fluency, I have decided to divide the essay into two sections: (1) analytic philosophy up to Quine and (2) analytic philosophy after Quine. The first section starts by discussing the early positivists, viewing in Rudolf Carnap their spiritual leader, whom I credit with the sedimentation of the traditional conception of the analytic philosophy of language and the analytic philosophy of truth. From Carnap, I move up to Willard Van Orman Quine, the theorist whom, through his relativistic theses, ultimately shows that the two traditional conceptions of analytic philosophy are dead in the water. In the second section I try to develop notions of meaning and ontology away from Quinean skepticism. First, I introduce Gottlob Frege as the theorist who, through his distinction between sense and reference, will allow me to compile a satisfactory conclusion regarding the relationship between language and ontology. I draw this conclusion by integrating (paradoxically) Hilary Putnam's indexicalism with Frege's notion of sense. In the conclusion I wish to seamlessly recapitulate on my final considerations regarding meaning and truth as inspired by Putnam's "Meaning of 'Meaning,'" a paper whose implications successfully defy Carnap, Quine, and Russell alike. After that, I bring in Recanati to aid me in integrating Putnam and Frege, (who Putnam thought to be his "philosophical enemy") in order to show that without a notion of "relational senses" Putnam's theory of reference makes no analytic sense. Ultimately, this section also makes clear that language and ontology should be seen as two sides of the same coin.
78 p.
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