For and Against Objective Meaning
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According to the dominant position among linguists and philosophers of language, natural language sentences have a definite meaning (such as truth-conditions) independent of what the speaker means by the sentence. Many theories have been developed to try and capture this speaker-independent meaning, but none has been able to solve all problems and become generally accepted. There is also another school, that thinks that the goal of finding a theory of speaker-independent meaning is misguided, because such a meaning does not exist. According to this school, the mainstream holds assumptions that are unwarranted. For this thesis, I have studied "Literal Meaning" by François Recanati (Cambridge University Press, 2004). In this book, Recanati gives an overview of what positions exist regarding the above question. He also describes his own position in the debate, and details a lot of arguments that have been made for and against all the different positions. In this thesis I give an overview of the different positions that Recanati describes, and the arguments for and against them. I also give the description and argumentation of Recanati's own position. Lastly, I give my own view on Recanati's argumentation, and I give some future research suggestions that may help to come closer to a resolution of the debate.