Semantic minimalism holds that it is possible to formally determine the propositional content of any well-formed sentence just via its syntactic components and their mode of combination, appealing to contextual elements only when they are triggered by explicitly indexical expressions. The motivation for this thesis, besides explaining the productivity and systematicity of language, is to guarantee a complete propositional content for every sentence that is minimal, invariant and maximally free of pragmatic effects. Semantic externalism seems to hold related theses: since the meaning of at least some terms is fixed externally, their semantic contribution to the propositional content is independent of contextual and psychological variations, at least for non-indexical terms. It seems natural, then, to combine the two theses. However, while externalism is well reputed, minimalism is an extremely unpopular thesis. Contextualists of all sorts argue that minimalism is radically inadequate to explain everything that a semantic theory should explain. Moreover, it is not even clear that minimalism and externalism are really compatible. My aim in this research is not just to offer a defense of minimalism, but also to show how a minimalist and externalist semantics is the best semantics we can have - but only if we reduce our expectations regarding what a semantic theory is able to explain.
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