About this topic
Summary A public language contrasts with a private language (a language only one person can speak, or know that they speak) and an idiolect (a language whose properties are determined by properties of the individual speaker, rather than other speakers or the community of speakers as a whole). Three main questions concerning public languages are the following. First, are there public languages, or are languages invariably either private languages or idiolects? Second, if there are public languages, are there languages that are not public, so either private languages or idiolects? Third, if there are both public languages and languages that are not public, what is the relation between private and public languages?   
Key works Kripke 1982 Important presentation of an argument against private language based upon the role of public language in determining correctness conditions for uses of language. Dummett 2010 Presentation of arguments in favour of the priority of public languages over languages that are not public, based on considerations about communication. Davidson 1986 Important argument against the need to appeal to public languages in giving an account of language and communication. Chomsky 1995 Defence of a view on which languages are not fundamentally public. 
Related categories

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  1. Review of Sanford C. Goldberg, Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification[REVIEW]Jonathan E. Adler - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (1).
  2. Chomsky and His Critics.Louise M. Antony & Norbert Hornstein (eds.) - 2003 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  3. Wittgenstein on Private Languages: It Takes Two to Talk.Benjamin F. Armstrong - 1984 - Philosophical Investigations 7 (January):46-62.
  4. Coordination, Triangulation, and Language Use.Josh Armstrong - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (1):80-112.
    In this paper, I explore two contrasting conceptions of the social character of language. The first takes language to be grounded in social convention. The second, famously developed by Donald Davidson, takes language to be grounded in a social relation called triangulation. I aim both to clarify and to evaluate these two conceptions of language. First, I propose that Davidson’s triangulation-based story can be understood as the result of relaxing core features of conventionalism pertaining to both common-interest and diachronic stability—specifically, (...)
  5. Virtuous Argumentation and the Challenges of Hype.Adam Auch - 2013 - Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation 10: Virtues of Argumentation.
    In this paper, I consider the virtue of proportionality in relation to reasoning in what I call ‘hype contexts’. I conclude that a virtuous arguer is one that neither accepts nor rejects a claim based on its ubiquity alone, but who evaluates its importance with reference to the social context in which it is made.
  6. Structure and Texture: Toward an Understanding of Real Languages.Emmon Bach - unknown
    About: the tensions between the inner and outer view of R-languages ("real languages"), the language-centered and theory-centered study of languages, the (often foreign) linguist and the (sometimes linguist) native speaker, description and theory, a language as a set of choices and extensions of universal grammar and as a concrete realization in a particular culture and history. The materials for this paper are drawn mostly from First Nations languages, especially those of the Pacific Northwest.
  7. Wittgenstein: Understanding and Meaning.Gordon P. Baker - 1980 - Blackwell.
  8. Wittgenstein, Meaning and Understanding: Essays on the Philosophical Investigations.Gordon P. Baker - 1980 - University of Chicago Press.
  9. Scepticism, Rules and Language.Gordon P. Baker & P. M. S. Hacker - 1984 - Blackwell.
  10. On the Possibility of a Solitary Language.Dorit Bar-On - 1992 - Noûs 26 (1):27-46.
  11. Idiolectal Error.Alex Barber - 2001 - Mind and Language 16 (3):263–283.
    A linguistic theory is correct exactly to the extent that it is the explicit statement of a body of knowledge possessed by a designated language-user. This popular psychological conception of the goal of linguistic theorizing is commonly paired with a preference for idiolectal over social languages, where it seems to be in the nature of idiolects that the beliefs one holds about one’s own are ipso facto correct. Unfortunately, it is also plausible that the correctness of a genuine belief cannot (...)
  12. Chomsky V. Kripke, Round Two: Methodological Collecttivism and Explanatory Adequacy.Dan Barbiero - 1996 - Wittgenstein-Studien 3 (2).
  13. Language as a Complex System: Interdisciplinary Approaches.Gemma Bel-Enguix, Jiménez López & María Dolores (eds.) - 2010 - Cambridge Scholars Press.
  14. Linguistic Behaviour.Jonathan Bennett - 1976 - Cambridge University Press.
    First published in 1976, this book presents a view of language as a matter of systematic communicative behaviour.
  15. Masters of Our Meanings.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 118 (1-2):133-52.
    The two-dimensional framework in semantics has the most power and plausibility when combined with a kind of global semantic neo-descriptivism. If neo-descriptivism can be defended on the toughest terrain - the semantics of ordinary proper names - then the other skirmishes should be easier. This paper defends neo-descriptivism against two important objections: that the descriptions may be inaccessibly locked up in sub-personal modules, and thus not accessible a priori, and that in any case all such modules bottom out in purely (...)
  16. Individualism, Externalism and Idiolectical Meaning.Robert Briscoe - 2006 - Synthese 152 (1):95-128.
    Semantic externalism in contemporary philosophy of language typically – and often tacitly – combines two supervenience claims about idiolectical meaning (i.e., meaning in the language system of an individual speaker). The first claim is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her intrinsic, physical properties. The second is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her understanding of its use. I here show (...)
  17. Wherein is Language Social?Tyler Burge - 1989 - In A. George (ed.), Reflections on Chomsky. Blackwell. pp. 175--191.
  18. Prosody Does Not Equal Language.Robbins Burling - 2004 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (4):509-509.
    Prosody, in motherese as in all forms of language, has a very different form and a very different use than the central lexical, phonological, and syntactic components of language. Whereas the prosodic aspects of motherese probably derive from primate vocalization, this does not help us to understand how the more distinctive parts of language emerged.
  19. Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification * By SANFORD C. GOLDBERG. [REVIEW]Stephen Andrew Butterfill - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):582-585.
    Reflection on testimony provides novel arguments for anti-individualism. What is anti-individualism? Sanford Goldberg's book defends three main claims under this heading: first, facts about the contents of beliefs do not supervene on individualistic facts about the believers ; second, an individual's epistemic entitlement to accept a piece of testimony depends on facts about her peers ; third, processes by which some humans acquire knowledge from testimony includes activities performed for them by others . Each of these three claims is argued (...)
  20. Arguing About Language.Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.) - 2009 - Routledge.
    Arguing About Language presents a comprehensive selection of key readings on fundamental issues in the philosophy of language. It offers a fresh and exciting introduction to the subject, addressing both perennial problems and emerging topics. Classic readings from Frege, Russell, Kripke, Chomsky, Quine, Grice, Lewis and Davidson appear alongside more recent pieces by philosophers or linguists such as Robyn Carston, Delia Graff Fara, Frank Jackson, Ernie Lepore & Jerry Fodor, Nathan Salmon, Zoltán Szabó, Timothy Williamson and Crispin Wright. Organised into (...)
  21. How New Language Emerge. [REVIEW]R. Sansegundo Cachero - 2009 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 28 (1).
  22. Does Language Determine Our Scientific Ideas?H. G. Callaway - 1992 - Dialectica 46 (3-4):225-242.
    SummaryThis 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 (...)
  23. No Need to Speak the Same Language? Review of Ramberg, Donald Davidson's Philosophy of Language.H. G. Callaway & J. van Brakel - 1996 - Dialectica, Vol. 50, No.1, 1996, Pp. 63-71 50 (1):63-72.
    The book is an “introductory” reconstruction of Davidson on interpretation —a claim to be taken with a grain of salt. Writing introductory books has become an idol of the tribe. This is a concise book and reflects much study. It has many virtues along with some flaws. Ramberg assembles themes and puzzles from Davidson into a more or less coherent viewpoint. A special virtue is the innovative treatment of incommensurability and of the relation of Davidson’s work to hermeneutic themes. The (...)
  24. The Community View.John V. Canfield - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (4):469-488.
  25. Indirect Reports as Language Games.Alessandro Capone - 2012 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 20 (3):593-613.
    In this chapter I deal with indirect reports in terms of language games. I try to make connections between the theory of language games and the theory of indirect reports, in the light of the issue of clues and cues. Indirect reports are based on an interplay of voices. The voice of the reporter must allow hearers to ‘reconstruct’ the voice of the reported speaker. Ideally, it must be possible to separate the reporter’s voice from that of the reported speaker. (...)
  26. On What We Mean.Arnold J. Chien - 2002
  27. Language From an Internalist Perspective.Noam Chomsky - 1997 - In David Martel Johnson & Christina E. Erneling (eds.), The Future of the Cognitive Revolution. Oxford University Press. pp. 118--135.
  28. The Ideas of Chomsky.Noam Chomsky - 1997 - Films for the Humanities & Sciences Distributed Under License From Bbc Worldwide Americas.
  29. Language and Intepretation: Philosophical Reflections and Empirical Inquiry.Noam Chomsky - 1992 - In New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind. Cambridge University Press. pp. 46--74.
  30. Language and Problems of Knowledge.Noam Chomsky - 1988 - MIT Press.
    Language and Problems of Knowledge is sixteenth in the series Current Studies in Linguistics, edited by Jay Keyser.
  31. Knowledge of Language.Noam Chomsky - 1986 - Prager.
  32. Problems of Knowledge and Freedom: The Russell Lectures.Noam Chomsky - 1971 - Vintage Books.
  33. Meaning, Publicity and Epistemology.Andy Clark - 1987 - Theoria 53 (1):19-30.
  34. (Uea).John Collins - manuscript
    (i) Languages are indefinitely various along every dimension. (ii) Languages are essentially systems of habit/dispositions. (iii) Languages are learnt from experience via analogy and generalisation. (iv) There is no component of the speaker/hearer’s psychology that is..
  35. Review of I G Norance of Language} by Michael D Evitt. [REVIEW]John Collins - 2007 - Mind 116 (462):416-423.
  36. The Essential Davidson.Donald Davidson - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    The Essential Davidson compiles the most celebrated papers of one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. It distills Donald Davidson's seminal contributions to our understanding of ourselves, from three decades of essays, into one thematically organized collection. A new, specially written introduction by Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on his work, offers a guide through the ideas and arguments, shows how they interconnect, and reveals the systematic coherence of Davidson's worldview. Davidson's philosophical program is (...)
  37. Kripke, Crusoe and Wittgenstein.S. Davies - 1988 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66 (1):52-66.
  38. South Asian Languages and Semantic Variation: A Cross-Linguistic Study.Veneeta Dayal - manuscript
    This project investigates the possibility of variation in the semantic component, a new and dynamic area of study in formal approaches to semantics. Its particular focus is the effect on variation of language contact. The semantic status of classifier languages of South Asia, which have been described as marginal instances of this language type, is used to illustrate the nature of the investigation. Data from a small representative sample of such languages will be collected. The semantic system of these languages, (...)
  39. What “Intuitions” Are Linguistic Evidence?Michael Devitt - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (2):251-264.
    In "Intuitions in Linguistics" (2006a) and Ignorance of Language (2006b) I took it to be Chomskian orthodoxy that a speaker's metalinguistic intuitions are provided by her linguistic competence. I argued against this view in favor of the alternative that the intuitions are empirical theory-laden central-processor responses to linguistic phenomena. The concern about these linguistic intuitions arises from their apparent role as evidence for a grammar. Mark Textor, "Devitt on the Epistemic Authority of Linguistic Intuitions" (2009), argues that I have picked (...)
  40. Ignorance of Language.Michael Devitt - 2006 - Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    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 (...)
  41. Language and Communication.Michael Dummett - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge.
  42. What Do I Know When I Know a Language?Michael Dummett - 1993 - In The Seas of Language. Clarendon Press.
  43. The Seas of Language.Michael A. E. Dummett - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
    Michael Dummett is a leading contemporary philosopher whose work on the logic and metaphysics of language has had a lasting influence on how these subjects are conceived and discussed. This volume contains some of the most provocative and widely discussed essays published in the last fifteen years, together with a number of unpublished or inaccessible writings. Essays included are: "What is a Theory of Meaning?," "What do I Know When I Know a Language?," "What Does the Appeal to Use Do (...)
  44. Logical Form and the Vernacular.Reinaldo Elugardo & Robert J. Stainton - 2001 - Mind and Language 16 (4):393–424.
    Vernacularism is the view that logical forms are fundamentally assigned to natural language expressions, and are only derivatively assigned to anything else, e.g., propositions, mental representations, expressions of symbolic logic, etc. In this paper, we argue that Vernacularism is not as plausible as it first appears because of non-sentential speech. More specifically, there are argument-premises, meant by speakers of non-sentences, for which no natural language paraphrase is readily available in the language used by the speaker and the hearer. The speaker (...)
  45. The Internal and the External in Linguistic Explanation.Brian Epstein - 2008 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (22):77-111.
    Chomsky and others have denied the relevance of external linguistic entities, such as E-languages, to linguistic explanation, and have questioned their coherence altogether. I discuss a new approach to understanding the nature of linguistic entities, focusing in particular on making sense of the varieties of kinds of “words” that are employed in linguistic theorizing. This treatment of linguistic entities in general is applied to constructing an understanding of external linguistic entities.
  46. Linguistic Intuitions.Robert Fiengo - 2003 - Philosophical Forum 34 (3-4):253–266.
  47. Michael Devitt, Ignorance of Language.Gareth Fitzgerald - 2009 - Minds and Machines 19 (3):445-450.
  48. Kripke.Bryan Frances - 2011 - In Barry Lee (ed.), Key Thinkers in the Philosophy of Language. Continuum. pp. 249-267.
    This chapter introduces Kripke's work to advanced undergraduates, mainly focussing on his "A Puzzle About Belief" and "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language".
  49. Social Externalism and Linguistic Communication.Christopher Gauker - 2003 - In Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind: Essays on Tyler Burge. CSLI.
    According to the expressive theory of communication, the primary function of language is to enable speakers to convey the content of their thoughts to hearers. According to Tyler Burge's social externalism, the content of a person's thought is relative to the way words are used in his or her surrounding linguistic community. This paper argues that Burge's social externalism refutes the expressive theory of communication.
  50. Public Manifestability and Language-Internalism.A. C. Genova - 1999 - Southwest Philosophy Review 15 (1):37-46.
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