Opposition to descriptivism.

Relevant figures:


  • semantic externalism
  • epistemological externalism
  • functionalism
  • direct reference
  • the relation between conceivability and possibility


  • Names, indexicals, and naturalkind terms are not synonymous with definite descriptions, and definite descriptions do not determine the referents of these linguistic expressions.
  • Understanding a name, an indexical, or a natural-kind term is not simply a matter of mentally grasping its meaning and associating this meaning with it.
  • One can understand two synonymous expressions without knowing that they are synonymous; hence, meaning is not transparent.
  • The meanings of many linguistic expressions and the contents of many mental states are determined in part by the physical or social environment in which they are used or occur.
  • Epistemic modality and metaphysical modality diverge in certain cases

Source: Wilfrid Sellars’ Anti-Descriptivism