The Publicity of Thought and Language

The sceptical problem of Kripkenstein pertains to both the notions of content of thought and linguistic meaning in such a way that if the sceptical solution allowed us to conclude that language is essentially public, then we should also be able to conclude that thought is essentially public. But, when addressing the question of the way in which one could, under this hypothesis, reach the conclusion that thought is essentially public, there would seem to be two possible types of answers. The first one is that this follows from the fact that language is a necessary condition of thought, thus: there is no thought without language, but there can be no language without there being more than one speaker, hence there can be no thought without there being more than one thinker. The second answer (which does not exclude the first) is that we should then be able to formulate a version of the sceptical solution which applies directly to the question of knowing under which conditions one is justified in judging that someone has a certain thought, and that that thought is correct. But if an answer of this second type were possible, it would perhaps no longer be necessary to rely on the sceptical solution in order to conclude that language is public, for in all likelihood, this conclusion would follow from the fact that thought is public, together with the idea that thought is a necessary condition of language, thus: there is no language without thought, but there can be no thought without there being more than one thinker, hence there can be no language without there being more than one speaker. Hence, there seems to be at least three different ways in which one could try to reach the two desired conclusions. However, the foregoing remarks hide a few difficulties that can partly be disclosed by stating more precisely what the publicity of language and thought is supposed to consists in.
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Martin Davies (1991). Concepts, Connectionism, and the Language of Thought. In W Ramsey, Stephen P. Stich & D. Rumelhart (eds.), Philosophy and Connectionist Theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 485-503.
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