Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Graham Priest

Committee Members

John Greenwood

Stephen Neale

David Rosenthal

Gary Ostertag

Subject Categories

Comparative Philosophy | Philosophy | Philosophy of Language | Philosophy of Mind


meaning, holism, atomism, compositionality, pragmatics, semantics


I defend semantic holism, the view that the meaning of an expression is determined by its relations to every other expression in the language of individual competent users. I argue that, once properly understood, most disadvantages attributed to holism can be dissolved and suggest that the core division between the holist and the non-holist is on the question whether invariant meanings shared across all possible occasions where the corresponded expressions are uttered are necessary for the explanation of meaning sharing. I give reason why the answer is negative and demonstrate how to explain our linguistic interaction without such invariant meanings.



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