Causal Theories of Meaning

Discipline: Philosophy

Theories which explain the meaning of a word or sentence in terms of its effect on the hearer, or in terms of the cause of its utterance by the speaker.

Such theories are also sometimes called 'stimulus/response theories', and they have some kinship with behaviorism.

An objection is that most such views ignore the roles of intention and insight in genuine, as against merely apparent, communication.

H P Grice, 'Meaning', Philosophical Review (1957); reprinted in P F Strawson, ed., Philosophical logic (1967)


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