2 Is the speaker's mind the source of an utterance's meaning?
The distinction noted in section 1 between the representational properties of a linguistic utterance (its ‘meaning’) and the representational properties of a mental state (its ‘content’) gives rise, naturally enough, to the suspicion that one of these might be more fundamental than the other. In this section I will look at a theory, most closely associated with the British philosopher H.P. Grice (1913–88), to the effect that the source of an utterance's meaning is the speaker's mind, i.e. the content of their mental states. On this view, when someone produces an utterance, the meaning of this utterance can ultimately be traced back to the content of their intentions in producing it.
An alternative possible source of an utterance's meaning is the meaning of the words used, conceived of as dependent on the characteristics of the linguistic community the person belongs to and possibly other factors that are ‘outside’ the mind of the utterer. Both views of the source of an utterance's meaning are appealing in their different ways. So a pair of questions that will stretch across this section is (i) whether the two views are genuinely in competition or merely apparently so, and (ii) if there is genuine competition, which of the views is more successful in locating the source of the meaning of utterances?