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Family Resemblances and Paradigm Cases1

  • David Coder (a1)

Current discussions of how words have meaning owe a great deal to the two ideas of family resemblances and paradigm cases. But the relations between these ideas have not been examined sufficiently. Some people regard the ideas as pretty much the same, or at least as complementary. Others regard them as distinct but compatible instruments for ordinary language analysis. I believe that both attitudes are probably wrong. Almost certainly, neither attitude is justified given the most common understandings of the two ideas.

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2 It is assumed, of course, here as throughout this essay, that being a game is not to be counted as a feature of a game. Nor, if x and y have something (the same or different things) in common with z, is that to be counted as an additional feature of x, y, or z.

3 It is not always done. Cf. McCloskey H. J., “The Philosophy of Linguistic Analysis and the Problem of Universals,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 24, No. 3.

4 My use of Hart as a source for the standard case conception is not meant to imply that he believes either of the propositions here denied. He does not make clear, in The Concept of Law, whether he believes them or not.

1 I am grateful to my colleague D. W. Crawford, who has read several drafts of this paper and has made valuable suggestions each time.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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