Ideal DoLLs as Ideology
This paper argues that many philosophical theories of meaning idealize our actual language communities and thereby contribute to perpetuating group-based oppression. I focus on externalist theories of language that posit a division of linguistic labor (DoLL), and I argue that the DoLLs they imagine are free of oppression and untouched by its effects. This distorts both basic theoretical assumptions and our ideas about which meanings are to be found in some language community. By thus obscuring oppression and its effects, we prevent ourselves from adequately addressing oppression's effects on the meanings we use to understand and communicate about the world.