Michael Devitt has argued that Chomsky, along with many other Linguists and philosophers, is ignorant of the true nature of Generative Linguistics. In particular, Devitt argues that Chomsky and others wrongly believe the proper object of linguistic inquiry to be speakers' competences, rather than the languages that speakers are competent with. In return, some commentators on Devitt's work have returned the accusation, arguing that it is Devitt who is ignorant about Linguistics. In this note, I consider whether there might be (...) less to this apparent dispute than meets the eye. -/- . (shrink)
Michael Devitt has argued that Chomsky, along with many other Linguists and philosophers, is ignorant of the true nature of Generative Linguistics. In particular, Devitt argues that Chomsky and others wrongly believe the proper object of linguistic inquiry to be speakers’ competences, rather than the languages that speakers are competent with. In return, some commentators on Devitt’s work have returned the accusation, arguing that it is Devitt who is ignorant about Linguistics. In this note, I consider whether there might be (...) less to this apparent dispute than meets the eye. (shrink)
I discuss the conjecture that understanding what is said in an utterance is to be modelled as knowing what is said in that utterance. My main aim is to present a number of alter- native models, as a prophylactic against premature acceptance of the conjecture as the only game in town. I also offer preliminary assessments of each of the models, including the propositional knowledge model, in part by considering their respective capacities to sub-serve the transmission of knowledge through testimony. (...) In each case, the preliminary assessment is unfavourable. I end by very briefly sketching an additional model as an object for future consideration. (shrink)
What is the epistemological role of speech perception in comprehension? More precisely, what is its role in episodes or states of comprehension able to mediate the communication of knowledge? One answer, developed in recent work by Tyler Burge, has it that its role may be limited to triggering mobilizations of the understanding. I argue that, while there is much to be said for such a view, it should not be accepted. I present an alternative account, on which episodes of comprehension (...) are better able to underwrite the interpersonal transmission of knowledge. (shrink)
Is linguistic understanding a form of knowledge? I clarify the question and then consider two natural forms a positive answer might take. I argue that, although some recent arguments fail to decide the issue, neither positive answer should be accepted. The aim is not yet to foreclose on the view that linguistic understanding is a form of knowledge, but to develop desiderata on a satisfactory successor to the two natural views rejected here.
I explore one apparent source of conflict between our naïve view of grammatical properties and the best available scientific view of grammatical properties. That source is the modal dependence of the range of naïve, or manifest, grammatical properties that is available to a speaker upon the configurations and operations of their internal systems—that is, upon scientific grammatical properties. Modal dependence underwrites the possibility of conflicting grammatical appearances. In response to that possibility, I outline a compatibilist strategy, according to which the (...) range of grammatical properties accessible to a speaker is dependent upon their cognitive apparatus, but the properties so accessible are also mind-independent. (shrink)
Designed for readers new to the subject, Reading Philosophy of Language presents key texts in the philosophy of language together with helpful editorial guidance. A concise collection of key texts in the philosophy of language Ideal for readers new to the subject. Features seminal texts by leading figures in the field, such as Austin, Chomsky, Davidson, Dummett and Searle. Presents three texts on each of five key topics: speech and performance; meaning and truth; knowledge of language; meaning and compositionality; and (...) non-literal meaning. A volume introduction from the editors outlines the subject’s principal concerns. Introductions to each chapter locate the pieces in context and explain relevant terminology and theories. Interactive commentaries help readers to engage with the texts. (shrink)
Abstract Some philosophers find linguistic meaning mysterious. Two approaches suggest themselves for removing the felt mystery, or demystifying meaning. One involves providing a substantive account of meaning in meaning-free terms. Although this approach has come under serious attack in recent years, Paul Horwich has recently presented a version of the approach that might be thought impervious. A preliminary attempt is made to argue that Horwich's version is vulnerable to the considerations felt to undermine other versions of the substantive approach to (...) demystification. That leaves the second approach, quietism, which involves showing that although meaning is primitive it is un-mysterious. It is suggested that this approach is worthy of exploration. (shrink)