Paradoxes of Signification

In: Vivarium
Stephen Read University of St Andrews UK

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Ian Rumfitt has recently drawn our attention to a couple of paradoxes of signification, claiming that although Thomas Bradwardine’s “multiple-meanings” account of truth and signification can solve the first of them, it cannot solve the second. The paradoxes of signification were in fact much discussed by Bradwardine’s successors in the fourteenth century. Bradwardine’s solution appears to turn on a distinction between the principal and the consequential signification of an utterance. However, although such a distinction played an important role in his successors’ theories, it is shown that Bradwardine’s account of signification does not admit any such distinction, no part being prior to the others. Accordingly his solution, unlike those of his successors, does not fall prey to Rumfitt’s paradoxes.

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