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The dispensability of metaphor

Grant, James (2010) The dispensability of metaphor. British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (3), pp. 255-272. ISSN 0007-0904.

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Many philosophers claim that metaphor is indispensable for various purposes. What I shall call the ‘Indispensability Thesis’ is the view that we use at least some metaphors to think, to express, to communicate, or to discover what cannot be thought, expressed, communicated, or discovered without metaphor. I argue in this paper that support for the Indispensability Thesis is based on several confusions. I criticize arguments presented by Stephen Yablo, Berys Gaut, Richard Boyd, and Elisabeth Camp for the Indispensability Thesis, and distinguish it from several plausible claims with which it is easily confused. Although I do not show that the thesis is false, I provide seven grounds for suspicion of our sense (if we have it) that some metaphors are indispensable for the purposes claimed by advocates of the Indispensability Thesis.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Aesthetics following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version, volume 50(3), pp.255-272, is available online at: A revised version of this paper is to be published as chapter 5 of James Grant, The Critical Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): metaphor, indispensability, paraphrase, Yablo, nominalism, Walton, make-believe, pretense, theory change
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Dr James Grant
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2012 14:46
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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