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Inferential role semantics

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Inferential role semantics (also: conceptual role semantics, functional role semantics, procedural semantics) is an approach to the theory of meaning heavily influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein's later philosophy in that it identifies meaning with use. Some versions focus on the representation's role in the mind of the agent while others acknowledge external factors. Proponents include W. Woods, Gilbert Harman, Paul Horwich, and Ned Block.

Inferential role semantics can be seen as opposed to truth-conditional semantics. Jerry Fodor coined the term "inferential role semantics" in order to attack it as a holistic (i.e. essentially non-compositional) approach to the theory of meaning.

The approach is related to accounts of proof-theoretic semantics in the semantics of logic which associate meaning with the reasoning process.

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