David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Philosophy 108 (9):447-485 (2011)
(i) Under what conditions are two utterances utterances of the same word? (ii) What are words? That these questions have not received much attention is rather surprising: after all, philosophers and linguists frequently appeal to considerations about word and sentence identity in connection with a variety of puzzles and problems that are foundational to the very subject matter of philosophy of language and linguistics.1 Kaplan’s attention to words is thus to be applauded. And there is no doubt that his discussion contains many useful insights. Nevertheless, we find his picture deeply flawed for a variety of crosscutting reasons. Our aim in this paper is to further advance an understanding of the nature of words, both by remedying the problems with Kaplan’s account, and also by achieving a suitable perspective on what the metaphysical investigation of word identity can hope to achieve. Our discussion divides into four parts. In Part One, we examine and critique Kaplan’s discussion of a contrast integral to his own account: that between the type-token and the stage-continuant conceptions of words. In Part Two, we present three constraints on any account of words and two further themes in Kaplan’s discussion central to his conception of words – the role of repetition and the constitutive authority of intentions. While these ideas have laudable motivations, we argue they are far from the best way of making good on the insights that drive them. The final two sections take a skeptical turn. In Part Three, we express doubt about Kaplan’s presumption of the importance of what he calls ‘common currency names’, thus raising a suspicion that he may be in pursuit of chimera. Finally, in Part Four, we express pessimism about whether interesting answers to question (i) above will be forthcoming, and suggest that the legitimacy of our word ontology need not depend on the availability of such answers. Along the way, we tease apart a number of metaphysical questions in the vicinity of the topic of word individuation – questions that are often not disentangled – and consider how the discussion of the previous parts bears on them..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Bert Hamminga (2005). Language, Reality and Truth: The African Point of View. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 88 (1):85-116.
Mark Schroeder (forthcoming). Semantics, Moral. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley.
Seth N. Greenberg & Monika Nisslein (1999). Words Do Not Stand Alone: Do Not Ignore a Word's Role When Examining Patterns of Activation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (2):289-290.
Paul Bloom (2001). Précis of How Children Learn the Meanings of Words. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (6):1095-1103.
Michael Glanzberg (2011). Meaning, Concepts, and the Lexicon. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 11 (1):1-29.
Kent Johnson (2004). From Impossible Words to Conceptual Structure: The Role of Structure and Processes in the Lexicon. Mind and Language 19 (3):334-358.
M. Stone, S. L. Ladd, C. J. Vaidya & J. D. E. Gabrieli (1998). Word-Identification Priming for Ignored and Attended Words. Consciousness and Cognition 7 (2):238-258.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads93 ( #13,087 of 1,102,698 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #84,360 of 1,102,698 )
How can I increase my downloads?