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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: February 2013

2 - Normativity



A good deal of the debate over Kripke's Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language has concerned the role of normativity considerations in the sceptical argument and in the sceptical solution. Alas, there is little consensus among commentators on either the correct interpretation, or the truth, of these considerations in either context. Interpreters give different answers to the questions of how normativity considerations are supposed to tell against dispositionalism, and what kind of normativity survives the shift to the sceptical solution. And many critics insist that the normativity considerations of Kripke's Wittgenstein fail to convince under any of the proposed interpretations.

The discussion over WRPL has made salient a fundamental divide in contemporary philosophy of language and mind: the divide between “semantic normativists” and “semantic anti-normativists”. Semantic normativists such as Crispin Wright regard it as “platitudinous to say … [that] … meaning is normative”. Semantic anti-normativists such as Akeel Bilgrami hold that “normativity is irrelevant to the meaning of words”. Almost all commentators assume that Kripke's Wittgenstein belongs among the semantic normativists. I shall argue that this classification is mistaken. Semantic normativity is a central part of meaning determinism. But far from endorsing semantic normativity, Kripke's Wittgenstein firmly rejects it.

The argument of this chapter develops in four stages. I shall start with a brief summary of the competing positions in the controversy over semantic normativity. This is meant to set the stage for my discussion of the disputes over WRPL.

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