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date: 23 May 2022

Abstract and Keywords

According to the ideational theory of meaning held by most seventeenth- and eighteenth- century European philosophers, meaningful words signify ideas in the mind of the speaker. This view was famously rejected by Berkeley. Some interpreters hold that in rejecting this view Berkeley meant merely to carve out some exceptions to the general principle that meaningful words stand for ideas. Others attribute to Berkeley the view that, rather than signifying ideas, words signify speaker intentions. Finally, some interpreters attribute to Berkeley a use theory of language similar to the later Wittgenstein. This chapter provides an overview of this interpretive debate and a defense of the use theory interpretation.

Keywords: philosophy of language, signification, ideational theory of meaning, speaker intentions, Wittgenstein, use theory of meaning

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