Date of Award

8-2000

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Dr. Arthur Falk

Second Advisor

Dr. Quentin Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Kent Baldner

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

The problems of referential indeterminacy and privacy are two preeminent riddles in the contemporary philosophy of language. They expose the poverty of the ultimate data the sensualists choose for the ground of language and knowledge. These riddles are dissolved in the course of shifting the foundations of the theory of reference from sensory input to human praxis. It is the human praxis that makes reference and ontology determinate, and what is left operationally indeterminate is trivial and indifferent. It is a difference in metaphysics whether one opts for individual's sense experience or social praxis as the ultimate ground of theory of reference. If one chooses the former, then indeterminacy and privacy seem to be unavoidable. The chief drawback of the sensualist theory of language is that it fails to supply a sound theoretical account for the problem of identity criteria. For an adequate theory of reference, linguistic holism, ontological relativism, and social behaviorism are inevitable and indispensable. The referential relation between words and objects is established in/by everyday communal praxis. Reference is relative to the operational predicates of a theory as a whole, relative to the systematic operational procedure, relative to a linguistic community's form of life.

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