David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Ratio 14 (4):386–406 (2001)
In the early part of the paper, I attempt to explain a dispute between two parties who endorse the compositionality of language but disagree about its implications: Paul Horwich, and Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore. In the remainder of the paper, I challenge the thesis on which they are agreed, that compositionality can be taken for granted. I suggest that it is not clear what compositionality involves nor whether it obtains. I consider some kinds of apparent counterexamples, and compositionalist responses to them in terms of covert indexicality and unspecific meanings. I argue that the last option is the best for most of the cases I consider. I conclude by stressing, as against Horwich and Fodor and Lepore, that the appropriate question concerns the extent to which compositionality obtains in a natural language, rather than whether it obtains or not, so that the answer is essentially messy, requiring detailed consideration of a wide range of examples.
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Citations of this work BETA
Nat Hansen & Emmanuel Chemla (2013). Experimenting on Contextualism. Mind and Language 28 (3):286-321.
Nat Hansen (2012). J. L. Austin and Literal Meaning. European Journal of Philosophy 20 (4):n/a-n/a.
Mark Textor (2009). A Repair of Frege's Theory of Thoughts. Synthese 167 (1):105 - 123.
Nat Hansen (2011). Color Adjectives and Radical Contextualism. Linguistics and Philosophy 34 (3):201-221.
Christopher Kennedy & Louise McNally (2010). Color, Context, and Compositionality. Synthese 174 (1):79--98.
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