Where After All Are the Meanings? A Defense of Internalism. Searle Versus Putnam

Christian Helmut Wenzel


There has been a recent dispute between Putnam and Searle over whether meanings are
“in the head”. Putnam makes use of Twin Earth thought experiments to show that our
mental states alone cannot determine what we refer to (and thus “mean”) and that we
also rely on external factors, which are not “in the head”. This suggests to me that
in some way we mean more than we actually know. Searle on the other hand makes use of
what he calls “Intentional contents”, “conditions of satisfaction” and
“self-referentiality” to show that meanings can be said to be in the head. It seems
to me that an internalist account as we find it in Husserl or Searle is closer to
what is going on when we mean something.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; meaning; internalism; externalism

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