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Continuity and Innovation in Medieval and Modern PhilosophyKnowledge, Mind and Language$
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John Marenbon

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265499

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265499.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Locke as a Social Externalist

Locke as a Social Externalist

(p.53) Locke as a Social Externalist
Continuity and Innovation in Medieval and Modern Philosophy

Martin Lenz

British Academy

What determines the meaning of linguistic expressions: the mental states of language users or external factors? John Locke is still taken to hold the simple thesis that words primarily signify the ideas in the mind of the speaker and thus to commit himself to an untenable mentalism. This chapter challenges this widespread view and sketches an argument to the effect that Locke should be seen as defending a kind of social externalism, since, for him, it is primarily the speech community that plays the essential role in determining meaning.

Keywords:   John Locke, philosophy of language, semantic externalism, signification

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