Committee ChairHorgan, Terry
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPragmatic Conceptual Analysis is a proposed methodology for attributing correct application conditions, or 'meanings', to concepts. This methodology involves two stages: first, we seek an empirical understanding of the ways in which usage of a given concept has regularly delivered benefits, and, second, we seek an explication of that concept which is optimally capable of delivering benefits in these ways. Such an explication captures the 'pragmatic meaning' of a given concept. Chapters 1-3 articulate Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis and the notion of pragmatic meaning, and show how these are related to other philosophical methodologies and accounts of concept-meaning.Chapter 4 uses a 'bootstrapping argument' to establish that Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis has two important virtues. The first phase of this argument establishes that Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis has normative authority - it reveals explications that we have practical and epistemic reason to adopt, whether we take these explications to be semantically revisionary or not. This normative authority licenses using Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis, in the second phase, to explicate our shared concept of concept-meaning. This yields the conclusion that we have epistemic reason to adopt the notion of pragmatic meaning as our explication of 'concept-meaning'. Having explicated our concept in this way, we see that Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis also has descriptive authority - it is a semantically conservative tool that reveals concept-meaning, thus explicated.The initial presentation of the bootstrapping argument considers only one sort of work that our concept of concept-meaning does - helping to guide our application of other concepts. But this concept also regularly delivers benefits in a second way - by helping us to give good explanations for the behavior and behavioral success of various concept-users. Chapter 5 uses the normative authority of Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis to justify a particular account of how good explanations work. Chapter 6 draws upon this account to argue that, in order best to explain people's behavioral successes, we need an explication of concept-meaning that is closely related to the one presented in Chapter 4.Chapter 7 considers several objections and hard cases, and argues that Pragmatic Conceptual Analysis weathers these storms in good shape.