theory of meaning

theory of meaning

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The theory of meaning may either attempt to explain what it is to have the concepts expressible in a particular language (full‐blooded theory), or merely to associate concepts with words in that particular language (modest theory). A theory of meaning suggested by Davidson, according to which knowing the meaning of a sentence consists in the ability to produce a T‐schema for that sentence, is a modest theory. But such a theory will be either a translation manual (in which case it does not explain the knowledge of language), or will have to be construed holistically (in which case a systematic account of the mastery of language is impossible).

A theory not only explains known facts; it also allows scientists to make predictions of what they should observe if a theory is true. Scientific theories are testable. New evidence should be compatible with a theory. If it isn’t, the theory is refined or rejected. The longer the central elements of a theory hold–the more observations it predicts, the more tests it passes, the more facts it explains–the stronger the theory.
Part of the Darwin exhibition.

References:

http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/darwin/evolution-today/what-is-a-theory
http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/academic