KEYNOTE: Expression and Meaning: Acts, Products, and ‘Normative Language’

Dorit Bar-On (University of Connecticut)

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Expression is a notion that’s used ubiquitously, yet it has received surprisingly little direct theoretical attention.  I have been interested in understanding the use and usefulness of expression in connection with three seemingly unrelated puzzles – about first-person authority, about motivational internalism, and about the origins of meaning.  I begin with a brief review of the puzzles and well-known, expressivist attempts to solve them, which have been dismissed (Section 1).  In each case, opponents have appealed to an apparent incongruence between what is ‘merely expressive’ and what is linguistically meaningful.  In Sections 2 and 3, I sketch the view of expression and expressive behavior I favor, which (I have argued elsewhere) allows us to articulate viable, neo-expressivist solutions to the puzzles.  One of my main aims in this paper will be to bring out the myriad ways in which the expressive and the linguistic interact, both in the origins of meaningful language and in its current, everyday use.  In the final section, I offer some tentative reflections on consequences of the view I outline for the alleged distinctiveness of so-called normative language.   Continue reading KEYNOTE: Expression and Meaning: Acts, Products, and ‘Normative Language’