Do we conduct our conscious propositional thinking in natural language? Or is such language only peripherally related to human conscious thought-processes? In this paper I shall present a partial defence of the former view, by arguing that the only real alternative is eliminativism about conscious propositional thinking. Following some introductory remarks, I shall state the argument for this conclusion, and show how that conclusion can be true. Thereafter I shall defend each of the three main premises in turn.
EVERY speaker of a language knows a bewildering variety of linguistic facts, and will come to know many more. It is knowledge that connects sound and meaning. Questions about the nature of this knowledge cannot be separated from fundamental questions about the nature of language. The conception of language we should adopt depends on the part it plays in explaining our knowledge of language. This chapter explores options in accounting for language, and our knowledge of (...)language, and defends the view that individuals’ languages are constituted by the standing knowledge they carry from one speech situation to another. (shrink)
Metaethics is the study of metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language, insofar as they relate to the subject matter of moral or, more broadly, normative discourse – the subject matter of what is good, bad, right or wrong, just, reasonable, rational, what we must or ought to do, or otherwise. But out of these four ‘core’ areas of philosophy, it is plausibly the philosophy of language that is most central to metaethics – and (...) not simply because ‘metaethics’ was for a long time construed more narrowly as a name for the study of moral language. The philosophy of language is central to metaethics because both the advantages of and the open problems facing different metaethical theories differ sharply over the answers those theories give to central questions in the philosophy of language. In fact, among the open problems over which such theories differ, are included particularly further problems in the philosophy of language. This article briefly surveys a range of broad categories of views in metaethics and both catalogues some of the principal issues faced by each in the philosophy of language, as well as how those arise out of their answers to more basic questions in the philosophy of language. I make no claim to completeness, only to raising a variety of important issues. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor's argument for an innate language of thought continues to be a hurdle for researchers arguing that natural languages provide us with richer conceptual systems than our innate cognitive resources. I argue that because the logical/formal terms of natural languages are given a usetheory of meaning, unlike predicates, logical/formal terms might be learned without a mediating internal representation. In that case, our innate representational system might have less logical structure than a natural language, making it possible that (...) we augment our innate representational system and improve our ability to think by learning a natural language. (shrink)
By a fragment of a natural language we mean a subset of thatlanguage equipped with semantics which translate its sentences intosome formal system such as first-order logic. The familiar conceptsof satisfiability and entailment can be defined for anysuch fragment in a natural way. The question therefore arises, for anygiven fragment of a natural language, as to the computational complexityof determining satisfiability and entailment within that fragment. Wepresent a series of fragments of English for which the satisfiabilityproblem is polynomial, (...) NP-complete, EXPTIME-complete,NEXPTIME-complete and undecidable. Thus, this paper represents a casestudy in how to approach the problem of determining the logicalcomplexity of various natural language constructions. In addition, wedraw some general conclusions about the relationship between naturallanguage and formal logic. (shrink)
I offer a synoptic account of some chief parameters of language and its relationship to communication and to thought, distinguishing in the process between semantical and pragmatic dimensions of utterance.
EVERY speaker of a language knows a bewildering variety of linguistic facts, and will come to know many more. It is knowledge that connects sound and meaning. Questions about the nature of this knowledge cannot be separated from fundamental questions about the nature of language. The conception of language we should adopt depends on the part it plays in explaining our knowledge of language. This chapter explores options in accounting for language, and our knowledge of (...)language, and defends the view that individuals’ languages are constituted by the standing knowledge they carry from one speech situation to another. (shrink)
This English translation of Vom Wesen der Sprache, volume 85 of Martin Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe, contains fascinating discussions of language that are important both for those interested in Heidegger's thought and for those who wish to ...
Philosophy of Language introduces the non-specialist to the main issues and theories in twentieth-century philosophy of language, focusing specifically on linguistic phenomena. Part I explores several theories of how proper names, descriptions, and other terms bear a referential relation to non-linguistic objects. Part II surveys competing theories of linguistic meaning and compares their various advantages and liabilities. Part III introduces the basic concepts of linguistic pragmatics, includes a detailed discussion of the problems of indirect force, and Part IV (...) examines linguistic theories of metaphor. (shrink)
Professor Hilary Putnam has been one of the most influential and sharply original of recent American philosophers in a whole range of fields. His most important published work is collected here, together with several new and substantial studies, in two volumes. The first deals with the philosophy of mathematics and of science and the nature of philosophical and scientific enquiry; the second deals with the philosophy of language and mind. Volume one is now issued in a new edition, including (...) an essay on the philosophy of logic first published in 1971. (shrink)
Language of thought theories fall primarily into two views. The first view sees the language of thought as an innate language known as mentalese, which is hypothesized to operate at a level below conscious awareness while at the same time operating at a higher level than the neural events in the brain. The second view supposes that the language of thought is not innate. Rather, the language of thought is natural language. So, as an (...) English speaker, my language of thought would be English. My goal is to defend the second view. My methodology will see the project broken down into three major areas. First I will show that human thinking requires a language of thought, after which I will highlight some problems with assuming that this language is innate and hidden. Included in this section will be a small introduction to the compatibility problem. The compatibility problem offers some obvious difficulties for mentalese theories and these will be discussed. The next stage of the project will focus on evidence that can be put forward in support of the claim that natural language is the language of thought. Our most direct source of evidence comes from introspection, and this will play a dominant role in the discussion. The final part of the thesis will involve an examination of the principle arguments that have been put forward against the idea that natural language is the language of thought. My goal will be to show that these arguments do not entail the existence of mentalese, nor do they show that natural language is not the language of thought. I will provide answers to the arguments, and will explain the phenomena they point to in terms of natural language being the language of thought. (shrink)
The new Chomskian orthodoxy denies that our linguistic competence gives us knowledge *of* a language, and that the representations in the language faculty are representations *of* anything. In reply, I have argued that through their intuitions speaker/hearers, (but not their language faculties) have knowledge of language, though not of any externally existing language. In order to count as knowledge, these intuitions must track linguistic facts represented in the language faculty. I defend this idea against (...) the objections Collins has raised to such an account. (shrink)
It is often observed in metaethics that moral language displays a certain duality in as much as it seems to concern both objective facts in the world and subjective attitudes that move to action. In this paper, I defend The Dual Aspect Account which is intended to capture this duality: A person’s utterance of a sentence according to which φing has a moral characteristic, such as “φing is wrong,” conveys two things: The sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional (...) meaning, the belief that φing has a moral property, and the utterance of the sentence carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that the person in question has an action-guiding attitude in relation to φing. This account has significant advantages over competing views: (i) As it is purely cognitivist, it does not have the difficulties of expressivism and various ecumenical positions. (ii) Yet, in spite of this, it can explain the close, “meaning-like,” connection between moral language and attitudes. (iii) In contrast to other pragmatic accounts, it is compatible with any relevant cognitivist view. (iv) It does not rest on a contentious pragmatic notion, such as conventional implicature. (v) It does not imply that utterances of complex moral sentences, such as conditionals, convey attitudes. In addition, the generalized implicature in question is fully calculable and cancellable. (shrink)
Donald Davidson's account of interpretation purports to be a priori , though I argue that the empirical facts about interpretation, theory of mind, and autism must be considered when examining the merits of Davidson's view. Developmental psychologists have made plausible claims about the existence of some people with autism who use language but who are unable to interpret the minds of others. This empirical claim undermines Davidson's theoretical claims that all speakers must be interpreters of other speakers and that (...) one need not be a speaker in order to be a thinker. The falsity of these theses has consequences for other parts of Davidson's world-view; for example, it undermines his argument against animal thought. (shrink)
Arguments from the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition suggest that since linguistic experience provides few negative data that would falsify overgeneral grammatical hypotheses, innate knowledge of the principles of Universal Grammar must constrain learners hypothesis formulation. Although this argument indicates a need for domain-specific constraints, it does not support their innateness. Learning from mostly positive data proceeds unproblematically in virtually all domains. Since not every domain can plausibly be accorded its own special faculty, the probative value of the argument (...) in the linguistic case is dubious. In ignoring the holistic and probablistic nature of theory construction, the argument underestimates the extent to which positive data can supply negative evidence and hence overestimates the intractability of language learning in the absence of a dedicated faculty. While nativism about language remains compelling, the alleged Logical Problem contributes nothing to its plausibility and the emphasis on the Problem in the recent acquisition literature has been a mistake. (shrink)
In his latest book, Michael Devitt rejects Chomsky’s mentalist conception of linguistics. The case against Chomsky is based on two principal claims. First, that we can separate the study of linguistic competence from the study of its outputs: only the latter belongs to linguistic inquiry. Second, Chomsky’s account of a speaker’s competence as consisiting in the mental representation of rules of a grammar for his language is mistaken. I shall argue, fi rst, that Devitt fails to make a case (...) for separating the study of outputs from the study of competence, and second, that Devitt mis-characterises Chomsky’s account of competence, and so his objections miss their target. Chomsky’s own views come close to a denial that speaker’s have knowledge of their language. But a satisfactory account of what speakers are able to do will need to ascribe them linguistic knowledge that they use to speak and understand. I shall explore a conception of speaker’s knowledge of language that confi rms Chomsky’s mentalist view of linguistics but which is immune to Devitt’s criticisms. (shrink)
This paper discusses Wittgenstein's ideas about the relation between thought, neurophysiology and language, and about the mental capacities of non-linguistic animals. It deals with his initial espousal and later rejection of a 'language of thought', his arguments against the idea that thought requires a medium of images or words, his reasons for resisting the encephalocentric conception of the mind which dominates contemporary philosophy of mind, his mature views about the connection between thought and language, and his remarks (...) about animals. The aim is not just to get a clear picture of Wittgenstein's position, but also to contrast it with contemporary approaches such as those of Fodor and Searle. While rejecting some of Wittgenstein's claims about the role of the brain, I defend his basic idea, namely that the capacity for entertaining a thought is conceptually tied to the capacity for displaying that thought in behaviour, rather than to the possession of language as such or to the occurrence of specific neurophysiological phenomena. (shrink)
recent cognitive theories into two antagonistic groups. Sententialists claim that we think in some language, while advocates of non-linguistic views of cognition deny this claim. The Introspective Argument for Sententialism is one of the most appealing arguments for sententialism. In substance, it claims that the introspective fact of inner speech provides strong evidence that our thoughts are linguistic. This article challenges this argument. I claim that the Introspective Argument for Sententialism confuses the content of our thoughts with their vehicles: (...) while sententialism is a thesis about the vehicles of our thoughts, inner speech sentences are the content of auditory or articulatory images. The rebuttal of the introspective argument for sententialism is shown to have a general significance in cognitive science: introspection does not tell us how we think. The problem The introspective argument for sententialism The argument for the blindness of introspection thesis Objections and replies Conclusion. (shrink)
Ever since Chomsky, language has become the paradigmatic example of an innate capacity. Infants of only a few months old are aware of the phonetic structure of their mother tongue, such as stress-patterns and phonemes. They can already discriminate words from non-words and acquire a feel for the grammatical structure months before they voice their first word. Language reliably develops not only in the face of poor linguistic input, but even without it. In recent years, several scholars have (...) extended this uncontroversial view into the stronger claim that natural language is a human-speciﬁc adaptation. As I shall point out, this position is more problematic because of a lack of conceptual clarity over what human-specific cognitive adaptations are, and how they relate to modularity, the notion that mental phenomena arise from several domain-speciﬁc cognitive structures. The main aim of this paper is not to discuss whether or not language is an adaptation, but rather, to examine the concept of modularity with respect to the evolution and development of natural language. . (shrink)
In this textbook, Michael Morris offers a critical introduction to the central issues of the philosophy of language. Each chapter focusses on one or two texts which have had a seminal influence on work in the subject, and uses these as a way of approaching both the central topics and the various traditions of dealing with them. Texts include classic writings by Frege, Russell, Kripke, Quine, Davidson, Austin, Grice and Wittgenstein. Theoretical jargon is kept to a minimum and is (...) fully explained whenever it is introduced. The range of topics covered includes sense and reference, definite descriptions, proper names, natural-kind terms, de re and de dicto necessity, propositional attitudes, truth-theoretical approaches to meaning, radical interpretation, indeterminacy of translation, speech acts, intentional theories of meaning, and scepticism about meaning. The book will be invaluable to students and to all readers who are interested in the nature of linguistic meaning. (shrink)
The construction and analysis of arguments supposedly are a philosopher's main business, the demonstration of truth or refutation of falsehood his principal aim. In Sense and Sensibilia, J.L. Austin does something entirely different: He discusses the sense-datum doctrine of perception, with the aim not of refuting it but of 'dissolving' the 'philosophical worry' it induces in its champions. To this end, he 'exposes' their 'concealed motives', without addressing their stated reasons. The paper explains where and why this at first sight (...) outrageous aim and approach are perfectly sensible, how exactly Austin proceeds, and how his approach can be taken further. This shows Austin to be a pioneer of the currently much discussed notion of philosophy as therapy, reveals a subtle and unfamiliar use of linguistic analysis that is not open to the standard objections to ordinary language philosophy, and yields a novel and forceful treatment of the sense-datum doctrine. (shrink)
The relationship of words to the things they represent and to the mind that forms them has long been the subject of linguistic enquiry. Joseph Graham's challenging book takes this debate into the field of literary theory, making a searching enquiry into the nature of literary representation. It reviews the arguments of Plato's Cratylus on how words signify things, and of Chomsky's theory of the innate "natural" status of language (contrasted with Saussure's notion of its essential arbitrariness). In the (...) process, Graham explores the issues of meaning and intentionality in representation, and questions of how the mind represents the world. Graham's use of linguistic theories and models leads him to a new response to Wimsatt's notion of the verbal icon, Stanley Fish's concept of literature as self-consuming artifact, and de Man's idea of its function as an allegory of reading. In showing them in fact to be complementary, he transcends the current controversies among literary theorists, arguing that the solution lies not in epistemology or philosophy, but in psychology and the study of how literature teaches and why humans learn best by example. (shrink)
The increasingly common use of inclusive language (e.g., "he or she") in representing past philosophers' views is often inappropriate. Using Immanuel Kant's work as an example, I compare his use of terms such as "human race" and "human being" with his views on women to show that his use of generic terms does not prove that he includes women. I then discuss three different approaches to this issue, found in recent Kant-literature, and show why each of them is insufficient. (...) I conclude that the tension between gender-neutral and gender-specific views in Kant's work should be made explicit, and I offer several strategies for doing so. (shrink)
Recent philosophy of mind has had a mistaken conception of the nature of psychological concepts. It has assumed too much similarity between psychological judgments and those of natural science and has thus overlooked the fact that other people are not just objects whose thoughts we may try to predict and control but fellow creatures with whom we talk and co-operate. In this collection of essays, Jane Heal argues that central to our ability to arrive at views about others' thoughts is (...) not knowledge of some theory of the mind but rather an ability to imagine alternative worlds and how things appear from another person's point of view. She then applies this view to questions of how we represent others' thoughts, the shape of psychological concepts, the nature of rationality and the possibility of first person authority. This book should appeal to students and professionals in philosophy of mind and language. (shrink)
Draft for Martinich and Hoekstra (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Hobbes. -/- Language was central to Hobbes's understanding of human beings and their mental abilities, and criticism of other philosophers' uses of language became a favorite critical tool for him. This paper connects Hobbes's theories about language to his criticisms of others' language, examining Hobbes's theories of propositions and truth, and how they relate to his claims that various sorts of proposition are absurd. It considers whether Hobbes (...) in fact means anything more by 'absurd' than 'false'. And it pays particular attention to Hobbes's categorization of causes of absurdity and of types of incoherent proposition, arguing that Hobbes's approach is only loosely related to later discussions of category mistakes. (shrink)
We human beings may not be the most admirable species on the planet, or the most likely to survive for another millennium, but we are without any doubt at all the most intelligent. We are also the only species with language. What is the relation between these two obvious facts?
Fodor and Pylyshyn's critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought" (LOT). Some connectionists like Smolensky took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that were supposed to be non-classical. At the core of these attempts lies the claim that connectionist models can provide a representational system with a combinatorial syntax and processes sensitive to syntactic structure. They are (...) not implementation models because, it is claimed, the way they obtain syntax and structure sensitivity is not "concatenative," hence "radically different" from the way classicists handle them. In this paper, I offer an analysis of what it is to physically satisfy/realize a formal system. In this context, I examine the minimal truth-conditions of LOT Hypothesis. From my analysis it will follow that concatenative realization of formal systems is irrelevant to LOTH since the very notion of LOT is indifferent to such an implementation level issue as concatenation. I will conclude that to the extent to which they can explain the law-like cognitive regularities, a certain class of connectionist models proposed as radical alternatives to the classical LOT paradigm will in fact turn out to be LOT models, even though new and potentially very exciting ones. (shrink)
In this exciting new collection, a distinguished international group of philosophers contribute new essays on central issues in philosophy of language and logic, in honor of Michael Dummett, one of the most influential philosophers of the late twentieth century. The essays are focused on areas particularly associated with Professor Dummett. Five are contributions to the philosophy of language, addressing in particular the nature of truth and meaning and the relation between language and thought. Two contributors discuss time, (...) in particular the reality of the past. The last four essays focus on Frege and the philosophy of mathematics. The volume represents some of the best work in contemporary analytical philosophy. (shrink)
Philosophy and Ordinary Language is a defense of the view that philosophy is largely about questions of language, which to a large extent means ordinary language. Oswald Hanfling, a leading expert in the development of analytic philosophy, covers a wide range of topics, including scepticism and the definition of "knowledge," free will, empiricism, "folk psychology," ordinary versus artificial logic, and philosophy versus science. He also draws on philosophers such as Austin, Wittgenstein, and Quine to explore the nature (...) of ordinary language in philosophy. (shrink)
Many people find themselves dissatisfied with recent linguistic philosophy, and yet know that language has always mattered deeply to philosophy and must in some sense continue to do so. Ian Hacking considers here some dozen case studies in the history of philosophy to show the different ways in which language has been important, and the consequences for the development of the subject. There are chapters on, among others, Hobbes, Berkeley, Russell, Ayer, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Feyerabend and Davidson. Dr (...)Hacking ends by speculating about the directions in which philosophy and the study of language seem likely to go. The book will provide students with a stimulating, broad survey of problems in the theory of meaning and the development of philosophy, particularly in this century. The topics treated in the philosophy of language are among the central, current concerns of philosophers, and the historical framework makes it possible to introduce concretely and intelligibly all the main theoretical issues. (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)
The Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Language is a collection of twenty new essays in a cutting-edge and wide-ranging field. Surveys central issues in contemporary philosophy of language while examining foundational topics Provides pedagogical tools such as abstracts and suggestions for further readings Topics addressed include the nature of meaning, speech acts and pragmatics, figurative language, and naturalistic theories of reference.
....a notion of 'common, public language' that remains mysterious...useless for any form of theoretical explanation....There is simply no way of making sense of this prong of the externalist theory of meaning and language, as far as I can see, or of any of the work in theory of meaning and philosophy of language that relies on such notions, a statement that is intended to cut rather a large swath. (Chomsky 1995, pp. 48-9) It is a striking fact (...) that despite the constant reliance on some notion of 'community language' or 'abstract language,' there is virtually no attempt to explain what it might be. (Chomsky 1993, p. 39) ....either we must deprive the notion communication of all significance, or else we must reject the view that the purpose of language is communication. ...It is difficult to say what 'the purpose' of language is, except, perhaps, the expression of thought, a rather empty formulation. The functions of language are various. (Chomsky 1980, p. 230) I have yet to see a formulation that makes any sense of the position that "the essence of language is communication." (Chomsky 1980, p. 80; see also 1992b, p 215). (shrink)
Quine and Davidson are among the leading thinkers of the twentieth century. Their influence on contemporary philosophy is second to none, and their impact is also strongly felt in disciplines such as linguistics and psychology. This is the first book devoted to both of them, but also the first to question some of their basic assumptions. Hans-Johann Glock critically scrutinizes their ideas on ontology, truth, necessity, meaning and interpretation, thought, and language, and shows that their attempts to accommodate meaning (...) and thought within a naturalistic framework, either by impugning them as unclear or by extracting them from physical facts, are ultimately unsuccessful. His discussion includes interesting comparisons of Quine and Davidson with other philosophers, particularly Wittgenstein, and also offers detailed accounts of central issues in contemporary analytic philosophy, such as the nature of truth and of meaning and interpretation, and the relation between thought and language. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan is well known for having developed a strikingly original way for philosophers to seek understanding of mind and language, which she sees as biological phenomena. She now draws together a series of groundbreaking essays which set out her approach to language. Guiding the work of most linguists and philosophers of language today is the assumption that language is governed by prescriptive normative rules. Millikan offers a fundamentally different way of viewing the partial regularities that (...)language displays, comparing them to biological norms that emerge from natural selection. This yields novel and quite radical consequences for our understanding of the nature of public linguistic meaning, the process of language understanding, how children learn language, and the semantics/pragmatics distinction. (shrink)
We rely on language to know the minds of others, but does language have a role to play in knowing our own minds? To suppose it does is to look for a connection between mastery of a language and the epistemic relation we bear to our inner lives. What could such a connection consist in? To explore this, I shall examine strategies for explaining self-knowledge in terms of the use we make of language to express and (...) report our mental states. Success in these strategies will depend on the view we take of speakers' understanding of the words they use to speak their minds. The key is to avoid circularity in the account of how they know what they mean; for if knowing what one is saying in speaking a language provides a means of knowing one's own mind, it cannot simply be a part of it. I shall look at ways in which we might proceed here, and examine whether the strategy can make room for a genuinely first-person point of view. But first let me try to motivate the problem of self-knowledge. (shrink)
What language allows us to do is to "steal" categories quickly and effortlessly through hearsay instead of having to earn them the hard way, through risky and time-consuming sensorimotor "toil" (trial-and-error learning, guided by corrective feedback from the consequences of miscategorisation). To make such linguistic "theft" possible, however, some, at least, of the denoting symbols of language must first be grounded in categories that have been earned through sensorimotor toil (or else in categories that have already been "prepared" (...) for us through Darwinian theft by the genes of our ancestors); it cannot be linguistic theft all the way down. The symbols that denote categories must be grounded in the capacity to sort, label and interact with the proximal sensorimotor projections of their distal category-members in a way that coheres systematically with their semantic interpretations, both for individual symbols, and for symbols strung together to express truth-value-bearing propositions. (shrink)
We consider the notion of everyday language. We claim that everyday language is semantically bounded by the properties expressible in the existential fragment of second–order logic. Two arguments for this thesis are formulated. Firstly, we show that so–called Barwise's test of negation normality works properly only when assuming our main thesis. Secondly, we discuss the argument from practical computability for finite universes. Everyday language sentences are directly or indirectly verifiable. We show that in both cases they are (...) bounded by second–order existential properties. Moreover, there are known examples of everyday language sentences which are the most difficult in this class (NPTIME–complete). (shrink)
The ‘Ordinary Language’ philosophy of the early 20th century is widely thought to have failed. It is identified with the broader so-called ‘linguistic turn’, a common criticism of which is captured by Devitt and Sterelny (1999), who quip: “When the naturalistic philosopher points his finger at reality, the linguistic philosopher discusses the finger.” (p 280) The implication is that according to ‘linguistic’ philosophy, we are not to study reality or truth or morality etc, but the meaning of the words (...) ‘reality’, ‘truth’, ‘morality’ etc. Ordinary Language philosophy has fallen so thoroughly into disrepute because it is supposed to advocate that not only are we to study words and meanings rather than the phenomena themselves (which is apparently bad enough), but we must restrict that study to words and meanings as they occur in the language used by the ordinary speaker. A number of preposterous corollaries have been taken to follow from this view. Most seriously, perhaps, and irritatingly, is that any theory which contains ‘non-ordinary’ uses of expressions is thereby ‘meaningless’ or simply false – which is clearly absurd. In this paper I show that this is a completely inaccurate picture of Ordinary Language philosophy. My aim is to correct these persistent misinterpretations, and make possible a more sensible reassessment of the philosophy. (shrink)
The Chomskian revolution in linguistics gave rise to a new orthodoxy about mind and language. Michael Devitt throws down a provocative challenge to that orthodoxy. What is linguistics about? What role should linguistic intuitions play in constructing grammars? What is innate about language? Is there a 'language faculty'? These questions are crucial to our developing understanding of ourselves; Michael Devitt offers refreshingly original answers. He argues that linguistics is about linguistic reality and is not part of psychology; (...) that linguistic rules are not represented in the mind; that speakers are largely ignorant of their language; that speakers' intuitions do not reflect information supplied by the language faculty and are not the main evidence for grammars; that the rules of 'Universal Grammar' are largely, if not entirely, innate structure rules of thought; indeed, that there is little or nothing to the language faculty. Devitt's controversial theses will prove highly stimulating to anyone working on language and the mind. (shrink)
In an influential critique, Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn point to the existence of a potentially devastating dilemma for connectionism (Fodor and Pylyshyn ). Either connectionist models consist in mere associations of unstructured representations, or they consist in processes involving complex representations. If the former, connectionism is mere associationism, and will not be capable of accounting for very much of cognition. If the latter, then connectionist models concern only the implementation of cognitive processes, and are, therefore, not informative at the (...) level of cognition. I shall argue that Fodor and Pylyshyn's argument is based on a crucial misunderstanding, the same misunderstanding which motivates the entire language of thought hypothesis. (shrink)
This paper attempts to explain why Heidegger's thought has evoked both positive and negative reactions of such an extreme nature by focussing on his answer to the central methodological question “What is Philosophy?” After briefly setting forth Heidegger‟s answer in terms of attunement to Being, the centrality to it of his view of language and by focussing on his relationship with the word "philosophy‟ and with the history of philosophy, the author shows how it has led Heidegger to construct (...) his own work, itself linguistic, as a self-referential union of form and meaning. It is suggested that, from a Heideggerian perspective, this gives his work added argumentative force but, conversely, allows the critic no point of entry into his hermeneutical circle – hence the extreme reactions. This observation is then applied to address a related critical question; it is used to make sense of the apparent distinction, in Heidegger's work, between talking about attunement to Being and actually effecting such an attunement. The author argues that, for Heidegger, there is actually no distinction and that his apparent descriptions of attunement to Being at once describe and effect such an attunement. This union can therefore be conceived as one dimension of the intimacy, previously observed, between form and content and which is recognised to be a feature of Heidegger‟s work by both the acolyte and the critic. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate a _prima facie_ tension between our commonsense conception of ourselves as thinkers and the connectionist programme for modelling cognitive processes. The language of thought hypothesis plays a pivotal role. The connectionist paradigm is opposed to the language of thought; and there is an argument for the language of thought that draws on features of the commonsense scheme of thoughts, concepts, and inference. Most of the paper (Sections 3-7) is taken (...) up with the argument for the language of thought hypothesis. The argument for an opposition between connectionism and the language of thought comes towards the end (Section 8), along with some discussion of the potential eliminativist consequences (Sections 9 and. (shrink)
In this chapter I shall examine some of Johann Georg Hamann’s claims about how philosophers misuse, misunderstand, and are misled by language. I will then examine how he anticipates things that Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein say on this topic.
Evolutionary psychology purports to explain human capacities as adaptations to an ancestral environment. A complete explanation of human language or human reasoning as adaptations depends on assessing an historical claim, that these capacities evolved under the pressure of natural selection and are prevalent because they provided systematic advantages to our ancestors. An outline of the character of the information needed in order to offer complete adaptation explanations is drawn from Robert Brandon (1990), and explanations offered for the evolution of (...)language and reasoning within evolutionary psychology are evaluated. Pinker and Bloom's (1992) defense of human language as an adaptation for verbal communication, Robert Nozick's (1993) account of the evolutionary origin of rationality, and Cosmides and Tooby's (1992) explanation of human reasoning as an adaptation for social exchange, are discussed in light of what is known, and what is not known, about the history of human evolution. In each case, though a plausible case is made that these capacities are adaptations, there is not enough known to offer even a semblance of an explanation of the origin of these capacities. These explanations of the origin of human thought and language are simply speculations lacking the kind of detailed historical information required for an evolutionary explanation of an adaptation. (shrink)
This book is an outstanding contribution to the philosophical study of language and mind, by one of the most influential thinkers of our time. In a series of penetrating essays, Chomsky cuts through the confusion and prejudice which has infected the study of language and mind, bringing new solutions to traditional philosophical puzzles and fresh perspectives on issues of general interest, ranging from the mind-body problem to the unification of science. Using a range of imaginative and deceptively simple (...) linguistic analyses, Chomsky defends the view that knowledge of language is internal to the human mind. He argues that a proper study of language must deal with this mental construct. According to Chomsky, therefore, human language is a 'biological object' and should be analyzed using the methodology of the sciences. His examples and analyses come together in this book to give a unique and compelling perspective on language and the mind. (shrink)
This paper discusses an "expressive constraint" on accounts of thought and language which requires that when a speaker expresses a belief by sincerely uttering a sentence, the utterance and the belief have the same content. It will be argued that this constraint should be viewed as expressing a conceptual connection between thought and language rather than a mere empirical generalization about the two. However, the most obvious accounts of the relation between thought and language compatible with the (...) constraint (giving an independent account of one of either linguistic meaning or thought content and understanding the other in terms of it) both face serious difficulties. Because of this, the following will suggest an alternative picture of the relation between thought and language that remains compatible with the constraint. (shrink)
What is the place of language in human cognition? Do we sometimes think in natural language? Or is language for purposes of interpersonal communication only? Although these questions have been much debated in the past, they have almost dropped from sight in recent decades amongst those interested in the cognitive sciences. Language and Thought is intended to persuade such people to think again. It brings together essays by a distinguished interdisciplinary team of philosophers and psychologists, who (...) discuss various ways in which language may be implicated in human cognition. The editors have provided an introduction which lays out the basic terms and history of the debate, and a consolidated bibliography which will provide a valuable reference resource for all those interested in this area. The volume will be of great interest to all researchers and students interested in language and its place in cognition. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- 1. The Value of Vagueness, Timothy Endicott -- 2. Vagueness and the Guidance of Action, Jeremy Waldron -- 3. What Vagueness and Inconsistency tell us about Interpretation, Scott Soames -- 4. Textualism and the Discovery of Rights, John Perry -- 5. The Intentionalism of Textualism, Stephen Neale -- 6. Can the Law Imply More than It Says? On some pragmatic aspects of Strategic Speech, Andrei Marmor -- 7. Modeling Legal Rules, Richard Holton -- 8. Trying (...) to Kill the Dead: De Dicto and De Re Intention in Attempted Crimes, Gideon Yaffe -- 9. Philosophy of Language and the Law of Contracts, Gideon Rosen -- 10. Language and Law: Who's in Charge?, Mark Greenberg -- 11. Meaning and Impact, Nicos Stavropoulos. (shrink)
In this commentary I use recent empirical evidence and theoretical analyses concerning the importance of language and the meaning of self-recognition to reevaluate the claim that the right mute hemisphere in commissurotomized patients possesses a full consciousness. Preliminary data indicate that inner speech is deeply linked to self-awareness; also, four hypotheses concerning the crucial role inner speech plays in self-focus are presented. The legitimacy of self-recognition as a strong operationalization of self-awareness in the right hemisphere is also questioned on (...) the basis that it might rather tap a preexisting body awareness having little to do with an access to mental events. I conclude with the formulation of an alternative interpretation of commissurotomy according to self-awareness — a “complete” one in the left hemisphere and a “primitive” one in the right hemisphere. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that the insistence by Fodor et. al. that the Language of Thought hypothesis must be true rests on mistakes about the kinds of explanations that must be provided of cognitive phenomena. After examining the canonical arguments for the LOT, we identify a weak version of the LOT hypothesis which we think accounts for some of the intuitions that there must be a LOT. We then consider what kinds of explanation cognitive phenomena require, and conclude (...) that three main confusions lead to the invalid inference of the truth of a stronger LOT hypothesis from the weak and trivial version. These confusions concern the relationship between syntax and semantics, the nature of higher-level causation in cognitive science, and differing roles of explanations invoking intrinsic structures of minds on the one hand, and aetiological or evolutionary accounts of their properties on the other. (shrink)
The relationship between language and conceptual thought is an unresolved problem in both philosophy and psychology. It remains unclear whether linguistic structure plays a role in our cognitive processes. This special issue brings together cognitive scientists and philosophers to focus on the role of language in numerical cognition: because of their universality and variability across languages, number words can serve as a fruitful test case to investigate claims of linguistic relativism.
In response to a recent challenge that the New B-theory of Time argues invalidly from the claim that tensed sentences have tenseless truth conditions to the conclusion that temporal reality is tenseless, I argue that while early B-theorists may have relied on some such inference, New B-theorists do not. Giving tenseless truth conditions for tensed sentences is not intended to prove that temporal reality is tenseless. Rather, it is intended to undermine the A-theorist’s move from claims about the irreducibility of (...) tensed language to the conclusion that temporal reality must be tensed. I then examine how A-theorists have used facts about language in attempting to establish their conclusions about the nature of temporal reality. I take the recent work of William Lane Craig and argue that he implicitly and illicitly moves from facts about temporal language to his conclusion that temporal reality is tensed. (shrink)
The interaction between brain and language has been investigated by a vast amount of research and different approaches, which however do not offer a comprehensive and unified theoretical framework to analyze how brain functioning performs the mental processes we use in producing language and in understanding speech. This Special Issue addresses the need to develop such a general theoretical framework, by fostering an interaction among the various scientific disciplines and methodologies, which centres on investigating the functional architecture of (...) brain, mind and language, and is articulated along the following main dimensions of research: (a) Language as a regulatory contour of brain and mental processes; (b) Language as a unique human phenomenon; (c) Language as a governor of human behaviour and brain operations; (d) Language as an organizational factor of ontogenesis of mentation and behaviour. (shrink)
This book is a major contribution to the understanding of Heidegger and a rare attempt to bridge the schism between traditions of analytic and Continental philosophy. Cristina Lafont applies the core methodology of analytic philosophy, language analysis, to Heidegger's work providing both a clearer exegesis and a powerful critique of his approach to the subject of language. In Part One, she explores the Heideggerean conception of language in depth. In Part Two, she draws on recent work from (...) theorists of direct reference (Putnam, Donnellan and Kripke inter alia) to reveal the limitations of Heidegger's views and to show how language shapes our understanding of the world without making learning impossible. The book first appeared in German but has been substantially revised for the English edition. (shrink)
For Ordinary Language philosophy, at issue is the use of the expressions of language, not expressions in and of themselves. So, at issue is not, for example, ordinary versus (say) technical words; nor is it a distinction based on the language used in various areas of discourse, for example academic, technical, scientific, or lay, slang or street discourses – ordinary uses of language occur in all discourses. It is sometimes the case that an expression has distinct (...) uses within distinct discourses, for example, the expression ‘empty space’. This may have both a lay and a scientific use, and both uses may count as ordinary; as long as it is quite clear which discourse is in play, and thus which of the distinct uses of the expression is in play. Though connected, the difference in use of the expression in different discourses signals a difference in the sense with which it is used, on the Ordinary Language view. One use, say the use in physics, in which it refers to a vacuum, is distinct from its lay use, in which it refers rather more flexibly to, say, a room with no objects in it, or an expanse of land with no buildings or trees. However, on this view, one sense of the expression, though more precise than the other, would not do as a replacement of the other term; for the lay use of the term is perfectly adequate for the uses it is put to, and the meaning of the term in physics would not allow speakers to express what they mean in these other contexts. (shrink)
There are several linguistic phenomena that, when examined closely, give evidence that people speak through characters, much like authors of literary works do, in everyday discourse. However, most approaches in linguistics and in the philosophy of language leave little theoretical room for the appearance of characters in discourse. In particular, there is no linguistic criterion found to date, which can mark precisely what stretch of discourse within an utterance belongs to a character, and to which character. And yet, without (...) at least tentatively marking the division of labor between the different characters in an utterance, it is absolutely impossible to arrive at an acceptable interpretation of it. As an alternative, I propose to take character use seriously, as an essential feature of discourse in general, a feature speakers and listeners actively seek out in utterances. I offer a simple typology of actions in discourse that draws on this understanding, and demonstrate its usefulness for the analysis of a conversation transcript. (shrink)
This is a volume of original essays on key aspects of John Searle's philosophy of language. It examines Searle's work in relation to current issues of central significance, including internalism versus externalism about mental and linguistic content, truth-conditional versus non-truth-conditional conceptions of content, the relative priorities of thought and language in the explanation of intentionality, the status of the distinction between force and sense in the theory of meaning, the issue of meaning scepticism in relation to rule-following, and (...) the proper characterization of ‘what is said’ in relation to the semantics/pragmatics distinction. Written by a distinguished team of contemporary philosophers, and prefaced by an illuminating essay by Searle, the volume aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of Searle's work in philosophy of language, and to suggest innovative approaches to fundamental questions in that area. (shrink)
The Language of Thought Hypothesis is often taken to have the fatal flaw that it generates an explanatory regress. The language of thought is invoked to explain certain features of natural language (e.g., that it is learned, understood, and is meaningful), but, according to the regress argument, the language of thought itself has these same features and hence no explanatory progress has been made. We argue that such arguments rely on the tacit assumption that the entire (...) motivation for the language of thought consists in explaining the explanandum that allegedly generates the regress. But this tacit assumption is simply false. The Language of Thought Hypothesis is a cogent view and one with considerable explanatory advantages. (shrink)
What must linguistic knowledge be like if it is to explain our capacity to use language? All linguists and philosophers of language presuppose some answer to this critical question, but all too often the presupposition is tacit. In this collection of sixteen previously unpublished essays, a distinguished international line-up of philosophers and linguists address a variety of interconnected themes concerning our knowledge of language.
In this paper I examine parallels between C.S. Peirce's most mature account of signs and contemporary philosophy of language. I do this by first introducing a summary of Peirce's final account of Signs. I then use that account of signs to reconstruct Peircian answers to two puzzles of reference: The Problem of Cognitive Significance, or Frege's Puzzle; and The Same-Saying Phenomenon for Indexicals. Finally, a comparison of these Peircian answers with both Fregean and Direct Referentialist approaches to the puzzles (...) highlights interesting parallels and important differences between Peirce's final account of signs, and the concepts used in analytic philosophy of language. (shrink)
This book discusses one of the central problems in the philosophy of law--the question of legal determinacy. Is the law a seamless web or are there gaps? Bix argues that the major re-thinking of the common and "common sense" views about law that have been proposed by various recent legal theories is unnecessary. He offers a reconsideration of the role of language in the law, and the way ideas about language have been used and misused in recent legal (...) theory. He explores in depth the relationship to legal theory of Hart's influential idea of "open texture," Dworkin's interpretative approach to law, and Wittgenstein's philosophy. (shrink)
In the worlds of philosophy, linguistics, and communications theory, a view has developed which understands conscious experience as experience which is 'reflected' back upon itself through language. This indicates that the consciousness we experience is possible only because we have culturally invented language and subsequently evolved to accommodate it. This accords with the conclusions of Daniel Dennett (1991), but the 'hermeneutic objection' would go further and deny that the objective sciences themselves have escaped the hermeneutic circle. -/- The (...) consciousness we humans experience is developed only within the context of crossing the 'symbolic threshold' (Percy 1975; Deacon 1997) and one of the earliest and most important symbols we acquire is that of the self, or 'the subject of experience'. It is only when we achieve self-awareness that the world, as such, comes to exist for us as an object (which contains categories and sub-categories of objects). Any consciousness imputed to prelinguistic stages of development is based on projection and guesswork, since we can know nothing directly of it. It can be said that any experience which does not separate an inner subject from an outer world is probably a continuum of sensation in which environmental stimulus and instinctive response are experienced as a unity; it may be 'lived experience' but it is experience 'lived' non-consciously. -/- Speech requires assertion and by learning to speak we find ourselves asserting, in essence, our selves into the world. The narrative form of language allows us to develop life stories, self-knowledge, and, most important, narrative memory coincident with narrative time. All this is made possible with the intersubjective 'net' of language which allows us to know ourselves by first identifying with the viewpoint of others; and, later, such allows us to identify with other minds as we anticipate their reception our communication. These three, assertion, narrative, and intersubjectivity are the essence of what language is and are the keystones that make culture possible outside of nature. (shrink)
This essay attempts to provide a systematic reconstruction of Nāgārjuna's philosophical thought by understanding it as a critique of the attachment to linguistic expressions and their referents. We first present an outline of Nāgārjuna's philosophy, centering on such notions as 'dependent origination', 'emptiness' and 'self-nature'. Then we discuss Nāgārjuna's dismissal of a metaphysical use of language, particularly his contention that language can function well without assuming the reality of its referents. We also consider his statement that he has (...) no assertion and explain his provisional use of language. Towards the end of the essay, we direct our attention to a paradoxical formula in a Buddhist sutra that should help in evaluating the contemporary significance of Nāgārjuna's linguistic critique. (shrink)
In the field of philosophy of language, is there life beyond Chomsky? Deleuze's deep distrust for, and fascination with language provide a positive answer - nothing less than a brand new philosophy of language, where pragmatics replaces structural linguistics, and where the literary text and the concept of style have pride of place. This should be good news not only for philosophers, but for linguistics and literary critics as well.
My aim in this paper is two?fold. I start by contrasting three versions of externalist arguments based on etiological considerations, whose differences are not often appreciated. My purpose in doing so is to isolate one of these versions of externalism as most supportive of current anti?individualist attitudes toward the mental. My second aim is to show that this version, which I call (for reasons soon to be clear) Dialectal Etiology , is marred to a greater extent than the other two (...) by an important problem of language individuation.ii.. (shrink)
Drawing on ten years of research on the unpublished Wittgenstein papers, Stern investigates what motivated Wittgenstein's philosophical writing and casts new light on the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations. The book is an exposition of Wittgenstein's early conception of the nature of representation and how his later revision and criticism of that work led to a radically different way of looking at mind and language. It also explains how the unpublished manuscripts and typescripts were put together and why they often (...) provide better evidence of the development of his ideas than can be found in his published writing. In doing so, the book traces the development of a number of central themes in Wittgenstein's philosophy, including his conception of philosophical method, the picture theory of meaning, the limits of language, the application of language to experience, his treatment of private language, and what he called the "flow of life." Arguing that Wittgenstein's views are often much more simple (and more radical) than we have been led to believe, Wittgenstein on Mind and Language provides an overview of the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy and brings to light aspects of his philosophy that have been almost universally neglected. (shrink)
The essays in this volume explore current work in central areas of philosophy, work unified by attention to salient questions of human action and human agency. They ask what it is for humans to act knowledgeably, to use language, to be friends, to act heroically, to be mortally fortunate, and to produce as well as to appreciate art. The volume is dedicated to J. O. Urmson, in recognition of his inspirational contributions to these areas. All the essays but one (...) have been specially written for this volume. (shrink)
In a powerful and original contribution to the history of ideas, Hannah Dawson explores the intense preoccupation with language in early-modern philosophy, and presents a groundbreaking analysis of John Locke's critique of words. By examining a broad sweep of pedagogical and philosophical material from antiquity to the late seventeenth century, Dr Dawson explains why language caused anxiety in writers such as Montaigne, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Gassendi, Nicole, Pufendorf, Boyle, Malebranche and Locke. Locke, Language and Early-Modern Philosophy demonstrates (...) that new developments in philosophy, in conjunction with weaknesses in linguistic theory, resulted in serious concerns about the capacity of words to refer to the world, the stability of meaning, and the duplicitous power of words themselves. Dr Dawson shows that language so fixated all manner of early-modern authors because it was seen as an obstacle to both knowledge and society. She thereby uncovers a novel story about the problem of language in philosophy, and in the process reshapes our understanding of early-modern epistemology, morality and politics. (shrink)
Language, meaning, and ek-sistence, by J. J. Kockelmans.--Heidegger's conception of language in Being and time, by J. Aler.--Poetry and language in Heidegger, by W. Biemel.--Heidegger's topology of being, by O. Pöggeler.--Thinking and poetizing in Heidegger, by H. Birault.--Hermeneutic and personal structure of language, by H. Ott.--Ontological difference, hermeneutics, and language, by J. J. Kockelmans.--The world in another beginning: poetic dwelling and the role of the poet, by W. Marx.--Panel discussion.--Heidegger's language: metalogical forms of thought (...) and grammatical specialties, by E. Schöfer.--M. Heidegger's "ontological difference" and language, by J. Lohmann.--Bibliography (p. 365-368). (shrink)
This book provides a novel interpretation of the ideas about language in Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Travis places the "private language argument" in the context of wider themes in the Investigations, and thereby develops a picture of what it is for words to bear the meaning they do. He elaborates two versions of a private language argument, and shows the consequences of these for current trends in the philosophical theory of meaning.
The present paper is intended to analyse from a theoretical point of view the relationships between natural language and idiolects in the context of communication by means of the Davidson–Dummett controversy on the nature of language. I will explore from a pragmatic point of view the reliability of an alternative position inspired by the recent literalism/contextualism debate in philosophy of language in order to overcome some limitations of Dummett’s and Davidson’s perspectives on language, idiolects and communication.
What makes Jewish thought Jewish? This book proceeds from a view of the Hebrew language as the holy tongue; such a view of Hebrew is, indeed, a distinctively Jewish view as determined by the Jewish religious tradition. Because language shapes thought and Hebrew is the foundational language of Jewish texts, this book explores the idea that Jewish thought is distinguished by concepts and categories rooted in Hebrew. Drawing on more than 300 Hebrew roots, the author shows that (...) Jewish thought employs Hebrew concepts and categories that are altogether distinct from those that characterize the Western speculative tradition. Among the key categories that shape Jewish thought are holiness, divinity, humanity, prayer, responsibility, exile, dwelling, gratitude, and language itself. While the Hebrew language is central to the investigation, the reader need not have a knowledge of Hebrew in order to follow it. Essential reading for students and scholars of Judaism, this book will also be of value to anyone interested in the categories of thinking that form humanity's ultimate concerns. (shrink)
This paper argues that the influence of language on science, philosophy and other field is mediated by communicative practices. Where communications is more restrictive, established linguistic structures exercise a tighter control over innovations and scientifically motivated reforms of language. The viewpoint here centers on the thesis that argumentation is crucial in the understanding and evaluation of proposed reforms and that social practices which limit argumentation serve to erode scientific objectivity. Thus, a plea is made for a sociology of (...) scientific belief designed to understand and insure social-institutional conditions of the possibility of knowledge and its growth. A chief argument draws on work of Axelrod concerning the evolution of cooperation. (shrink)
Stephen May (2011) holds that language rights have been insufficiently recognized, or just rejected as problematic, in human rights theory and practice. Defending the “human rights approach to language rights”, he claims that language rights should be accorded the status of fundamental human rights, recognized as such by states and international organizations. This article argues that the notion of language rights is far from clear. According to May, one key reason for rejecting the claim that (...) class='Hi'>language rights should be considered as human rights is the widespread belief that language rights are collective rights. In order to address this kind of objection, the collective character attributed to language rights must be carefully assessed, distinguishing two different views of what a collective right is. (shrink)
I demonstrate that locking on, a key notion in Jerry Fodor's most recent theory of content, supplemented informational atomism (SIA), is cashed out in terms of asymmetric dependence, the central notion in his earlier theory of content. I use this result to argue that SIA is incompatible with the language of thought hypothesis because the constraints on the causal relations into which symbols can enter imposed by the theory of content preclude the causal relations needed between symbols for them (...) to serve as the elements of the medium of thought. (shrink)
How does language (spoken or written) impact thought? One useful way to approach this important but elusive question may be to consider language itself as a cognition-enhancing animal-built structure. To take this perspective is to view language as a kind of self-constructed cognitive niche. These self-constructed cognitive niches play, I suggest, three distinct but deeply interlocking roles in human thought and reason. Working together, these three interlocking routines radically transform the human mind, and mark a genuine discontinuity (...) in the space of anitnal minds. (shrink)
A common complaint against Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language is that whereas the aim of “the real” Wittgenstein’s private language argument is to establish the impossibility of a necessarily private language, the communitarian account of meaning proposed by Kripke’s Wittgenstein (KW), if successful, would establish the impossibility of a contingently private language. I show that this common complaint is based on a failure of Kripke’s critics (a failure that is justified, in part, by Kripke’s (...) text) to recognize and understand his distinction between a “physically isolated” individual (PII) and an individual “considered in isolation” (ICl) . It is only an ICI for whom rule following and language are rendered impossible by KW. l then show that an lel speaks a necessarily private language. Thus, KW’s private language argument gives us, at best, the same story about the impossibility of private language as pre-Kripke accounts of Wittgenstein’s private language argument. (shrink)
This is a book about Aristotle's philosophy of language, interpreted in a framework that provides a comprehensive interpretation of Aristotle's metaphysics, philosophy of mind, epistemology and science. The aims of the book are to explicate the description of meaning contained in De Interpretatione and to show the relevance of that theory of meaning to much of the rest of Arisotle's philosophy. In the process Deborah Modrak reveals how that theory of meaning has been much maligned.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the merits of the idea that dynamical systems theory (also known as chaos theory) provides a model of the mind that can vindicate the language of thought (LOT). I investigate the nature of emergent structure in dynamical systems to assess its compatibility with causally efficacious syntactic structure in the brain. I will argue that anyone who is committed to the idea that the brain's functioning depends on emergent features of dynamical systems (...) should have serious reservations about the LOT. First, dynamical systems theory casts doubt on one of the strongest motives for believing in the LOT: principle P, the doctrine that structure found in an effect must also be found in its cause. Second, chaotic emergence is a double-edged sword. Its tendency to cleave the psychological from the neurological undermines foundations for belief in the existence of causally efficacious representations. Overall, a dynamic conception of the brain sways us away from realist conclusions about the causal powers of representations with constituent structure. (shrink)
Sören Stenlund's work marks a major advance in our understanding of why the philosophy of language has been so dominated over the past few decades by the so-called "creative aspect of language" -- the problem of how we are able to understand sentences that we have never heard before. Stenlund raises some fundamental philosophical objections by demonstrating, for example, how the theory distorts the flexibility and fluidity of word -- and sentence -- meaning. Although words and sentences can (...) have a remarkable number of different, sometimes extraordinarily subtle meanings, Stenlund shows how language-users can readily adapt to entirely novel uses of a word or a sentence. Language and Philosophical Problems presents the results of philosophical investigations into several connected issues of current interest within the philosophies of language, logic, mind, and mathematics. In particular it deals with our tendency to be misled by certain prevailing views and preconceptions of language. (shrink)
I explore the idea of language reaching its limits by distinguishing two kinds of limits language may have: The first are “Boundaries” which lie on the edges of language, and distinguish what makes sense from what does not. These, I claim, are suitable in making theoretical generalizations. The second are “Contours,” which lie within language, and allow for contrasting and comparing meanings and shades of meanings that we capture in language. These are more suitable for (...) characterizations of particulars, and for literary use. I claim that failure to draw this distinction is responsible for confusions in Sabina Lovibond’s and Richard Rorty’s views of moral thought and language. (shrink)
One of the most important abilities we have as humans is the ability to think about number. In this chapter, we examine the question of whether there is an essential connection between language and number. We provide a careful examination of two prominent theories according to which concepts of the positive integers are dependent on language. The first of these claims that language creates the positive integers on the basis of an innate capacity to represent real numbers. (...) The second claims that language’s function is to integrate contents from modules that humans share with other animals. We argue that neither model is successful. (shrink)