Edited by Guy Longworth (University of Warwick)
|Summary||It seems obvious that the connection between, on one hand, the sounds, shapes, movements and the like that underwrite language use and, on the other hand, core linguistic properties, like grammatical properties and meanings, is fairly arbitrary. The same sounds, shapes, movements, etc., that are used in English to say that the cat is on the mat could easily have been used to say that the ship is sinking. And other sounds, shapes, movements, etc., could easily have been used to say that the cat is on the mat. The general question that accounts of linguistic convention aim to answer is, how are the connections here instituted? Sometimes 'conventional' is used to indicate the type of connection in question here, in which case it is assumed that the relevant connections are conventional, and the difficulty is to explain in detail the nature of the relevant conventions. Other times, specific accounts are given of what conventions are, and the difficulty is to demonstrate, or explain, whether, and if so how, those accounts apply to the institution of connections in the sphere of language. Taking the latter route, some philosophers have provided detailed accounts of convention on which participation in a convention seems to require mutual knowledge that others are so participating. Other philosophers have argued that such accounts are too demanding, and that less is required to participate in, for example, the use of a language.|
|Key works||Lewis 1969 Important general account of convention including an attempt to apply the account to language. Lewis 1975 Another attempt to explain how the relation between speakers and languages is conventional. Schiffer 1972 Another important attempt to account for language use by appeal to speakers' intentions and forms of convention. Burge 1975 Presents important objections to the above accounts. Davidson 1984 Argues that appeal to convention is not required in accounting for speakers' relations to languages. Gilbert 1983 Useful discussion of the nature of convention and its role in accounting for language. Schiffer 1993 Engages critically with the above accounts of the relation between speakers and their languages (the actual-language relation) and argues for a more minimal account. Davis 1998 Useful book length treatment of issues about linguistic convention and intention.|
|Introductions||Avramides 1997 Rescorla 2008|
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