Theory of Meaning, Deference and Normativity

Keywords: normativity, meaning, deference, reference borrowing, experts, sociolect


In the process of natural language functioning, in the speech communication, new regulations and requirements are constantly emerging that become normative.

In the paper, in focus are (1) the interaction of meaning and normativity, and 2) the process of norm construal through socio-linguistic practice, namely – through the concept of deference, the phenomenon of borrowing concepts, knowledge, information from other people, linguistic communities and sources of information is considered. With the help of deference, the other side of the meaningful relationship is indicated and described when we rely on other people's thoughts, knowledge that we believe to be true and authoritative. This can happen both consciously (deliberately), and unconsciously (by default). The bearers of the norm we rely on can be individuals, groups and large linguistic communities. The deferential mechanism described in the paper captures the fact that the communication participants can effectively use and reason with the help of concepts, with little or no understanding of their true meaning. The tendency towards normativisation, unification of language and speech and corrections of all that does not agree with the common usage of words, meanings, norms in society is disclosed in the paper. A distinction is also parsed between how norms work in closed language communities and research expert groups capable of "structural cooperation" and functional definition of norms. Lastly, the author emphasizes that deference substantially complements the language in which we describe guidance, in relation to the real and symbolic worlds, where our view goes, what we remember and what we design; it is our habitual, conscious or unconscious, but not always correct, use of words, which is an important part of living communication between the social and linguistic communities. This is the case where, in some sense, a defect, a violation of norms, or a hindrance of speech communication becomes (may be) a creative means of distinguishing between what is and is not an extension of the term.

Author Biography

Natalia Viatkina

Candidate of Philosophy, Senior Researcher, Department of Logic and Methodology, Institute of Philosophy NAS of Ukraine


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How to Cite
Viatkina, N. (2020). Theory of Meaning, Deference and Normativity. Filosofska Dumka, (5), 40-51.