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Ockham’s Semantic Model: Subordination, Correspondence, and the Role of Mental Speech with Respect to Spoken Language

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Chapter Summary

The assumption of mental speech (oratio mentalis) takes a prominent place in Ockham's philosophy of language and epistemology. This chapter explains the constitutive role of subordination for spoken terms' property of signification. It shows that Ockham accounts for the import of spoken propositions by means of the relation of correspondence. Ockham introduces correspondence between mental and spoken propositions as a foundational principle of the semantic analysis of spoken propositions. The chapter also shows that in some cases the import of a spoken proposition can simply be derived from the signification and supposition of the spoken terms; this is especially pertinent in the case of propositions containing synonymous terms which can be substituted salva veritate. It discusses spoken propositions containing demonstratives as a case where the intention of the speaker wholly determines the supposition of a spoken term.

Keywords: epistemology; language; mental speech; Ockham; salva veritate; semantic analysis; spoken propositions; supposition



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