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Meaning and Intention: A Defence of Procedural Individualism


This paper defends a weak intentionalism, or procedural individualism, according to which any meaning, or at least any meaning with a temporal existence, is either a meaning for a specific person or an abstraction based on such meanings. All historical meanings are intentional in the weak sense of being meanings for specific people. We can individuate such weak intentions, moreover, solely by reference to the individual for whom they exist. This weak intentionalism or procedural individualism differs from strong intentionalism in ways that facilitate effective responses to the criticisms of the latter raised by New Critics, psycho-analytic theorists, and others. In addition, it helps us to make sense of cases in which there seem to be peculiar difficulties in identifying who or what is the author of an utterance.

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