Honors Theses

Advisor

Trip Glazer

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Publication Date

12-2021

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Abstract

The philosopher John Searle wrote that, “The fundamental question in the philosophy of language has always been: How does language relate to reality?” For much of history, people assumed the answer to this question was “the mind”, and the debate was then about how the mind related language to reality. Starting in the 1970s, this view was challenged by the philosopher Hilary Putnam and others who claimed that meaning is not only in the mind but also involved the environment (a view known as semantic externalism). In this paper, I will give some background to Putnam’s semantic externalism and will then defend his view against Searle’s criticism by showing that Searle’s view in fact requires externalism.


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