Carl G. Hempel Lectures "Interpretive Objects: Meaning in Language, Life and Law"

Lecture 1: "Language"
May 3, 2023, 4:00 pm6:00 pm
Robertson Hall, Bowl 001



Event Description

Series abstract:
Some kinds of thing are interpretive objects: instead of being unified by physical continuity, function, artifice, or social construction, they are unified by the best interpretation of what is there. In these lectures I will endeavor to convince you not only that there are such things, but that we find them in many places – that words, novels and philosophy journal articles, constitutional traditions, and even you and I, are in fact interpretive objects. Interpretive objects, I’ll ultimately argue, are where we find meaning.

"Language" abstract:
In this lecture I’ll introduce the concept of an interpretive object and show how we can make philosophical sense of them in very much the same kind of way that we can make philosophical sense of other kinds of object.  After arguing that there really are interpretive objects and illustrating the virtues of the framework for making sense of works of literature – including works of philosophy – I’ll contrast interpretive objects with the more familiar idea in philosophy that some properties are essentially interpretive in nature.  I’ll motivate the idea that among these properties is the property of meaningfulness, and I’ll offer three kinds of argument that words are themselves interpretive objects.