Andrea Guardo


Does Semantic Non-Factualism Lead to Subjective Idealism?


Semantic non-factualism leads, quite straightforwardly, to a broadly relativistic account of what John MacFarlane would call the “post-semantics” of meaning ascriptions. Being restricted to meaning ascriptions, the relativism in question is a local one and forms of local relativism have been defended for various constructions. However, it has been argued, by John McDowell and others, that, unlike other local forms of relativism, relativism about meaning ascriptions entails global relativism, which in turn entails some form of subjective idealism, a view usually regarded as absurd. In this paper, I argue that this reductio ad absurdum of semantic non-factualism does not work because even granting the transition from semantic non-factualism to relativism about meaning ascriptions and that from global relativism to subjective idealism, it is not true that relativism about meaning ascriptions entails global relativism. The paper has three parts. In the first, I introduce the conceptual apparatus needed to evaluate McDowell’s argument ‒ an apparatus formally equivalent to MacFarlane’s development of Kaplan’s system. Having done that, I give a fully explicit reconstruction of McDowell’s argument. Finally, I show that one of the argument’s lemmas is ambiguous and that the argument as a whole fails because of a fallacy of equivocation.

Date / Time / Place

June 21st / 10:10 / Aula Magna