Prescription for Descriptionists

Ilkka Pättiniemi One can take (at least) two attitudes when it comes to the meaning of words (or concepts, phrases etc.). One can be a prescriptivist, that is one can hold to the idea that words have a real meaning that is determined by some, possibly metaphysical, facts about the world outside of their use.Continue reading “Prescription for Descriptionists”

Normative Relativism Isn’t Good for You

Ilmari Hirvonen Let’s start with a bold conjecture: you’re not a normative relativist. Not at least when it comes to issues like morals, linguistic interpretation, or inference. Indeed, adopting normative relativism in regards such topics would be, at the least, detrimental. But what is this thing called “normative relativism” anyway, and what’s so bad aboutContinue reading “Normative Relativism Isn’t Good for You”

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Natural Language

Ilkka Pättiniemi In his classic paper “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” (1960), Eugene Wigner tells a story of two friends meeting after a long while. One of them has become a statistician working in population trends. He shows a reprint of his recent paper to his friend, who, upon seeing aContinue reading “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Natural Language”

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