Semantic externalism, language variation, and sociolinguistic accommodation

Mind and Language 23 (5):607-633 (2008)
Abstract
Abstract:   Chomsky (1986) has claimed that the prima facie incompatibility between descriptive linguistics and semantic externalism proves that an externalist semantics is impossible. Although it is true that a strong form of externalism does not cohere with descriptive linguistics, sociolinguistic theory can unify the two approaches. The resulting two-level theory reconciles descriptivism, mentalism, and externalism by construing community languages as a function of social identification. This approach allows a fresh look at names and definite descriptions while also responding to Chomsky's (1993, 1995) challenge to articulate an externalist theory of meaning that can be used in the scientific investigation of language.
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John Collins (2009). Methodology, Not Metaphysics: Against Semantic Externalism. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 83 (1):53-69.
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