The language of thought and natural language understanding

Analysis 58 (4):264-272 (1998)
Stephen Laurence and Eric Margolis have recently argued that certain kinds of regress arguments against the language of thought (LOT) hypothesis as an account of how we understand natural languages have been answered incorrectly or inadequately by supporters of LOT ('Regress arguments against the language of thought', Analysis, 57 (1), 60-6, J 97). They argue further that this does not undermine the LOT hypothesis, since the main sources of support for LOT are (or might be) independent of it providing an account of how we understand natural language. In my paper I seek to refute both these claims, and reinstate the putative explanation of natural language understanding as a necessarily central part of the support for LOT. The main argument exploits the fact that Laurence and Margolis give too little weight to the ideas (a) that LOT might be innate (b) that for LOT supporters a semantic theory must apply to in-the-head tokens, not linguistic utterances.
Keywords Epistemology  Knowledge  Language  Natural Language  Laurence, S  Margolis, E
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DOI 10.1111/1467-8284.00130
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