A chomskian alternative to convention-based semantics

Mind 105 (418):269-301 (1996)
Abstract
In virtue of what do the utterances we make mean what they do? What facts about these signs, about us, and about our environment make it the case that they have the meanings they do? According to a tradition stemming from H.P. Grice through David Lewis and Stephen Schiffer it is in virtue of facts about conventions that we participate in as language users that our utterances mean what they do (see Gr'ice 1957, Lewis 1969, 1983, Schiffer 1972, 1982). This view currently enjoys widespread acceptance among philosophers of mind and language. Though most are not particularly interested in the details of such programs, the dominant view seems to be that something of the sort proposed by Grice, Lewis and Schiffer is basically right. Thus, Jerry Fodor, refiecting what I take to be prevalent attitudes in the field, writes
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