Date of Degree

9-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Philosophy

Advisor

Noel Carroll

Committee Members

Michael Devitt

Peter Godfrey-Smith

Nickolas Pappas

Jesse Prinz

Subject Categories

Esthetics | Philosophy of Language | Philosophy of Mind | Philosophy of Science

Keywords

meaning, interpretation, intention

Abstract

Interpretation is the process by which we find meaning in the things in the world around us: clouds on the horizon, bones, street signs, hairbrushes, uniforms, paintings, letters, and utterances. But where does that meaning come from and on what basis are we justified in saying a particular meaning is the right meaning? Drawing from debates in the philosophy of language, I argue that a complete theory of meaning and interpretation must be grounded in intentions. My argument employs research in the philosophy of language, aesthetics, linguistics, and cognitive science to develop a general framework of interpretation. This framework is then broadly applied to objects of interpretation across a range of fields: legal theory, history, art history, theology, literature, and archaeology.

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