Meaning, Cognition, and the Philosophy of Thought

Michael Dummett has claimed that analytic philosophy is distinguished from other schools in its belief that a comprehensive philosophical account of thought can only be attained by developing a philosophical account of language. Dummett himself argues persuasively for the priority-of-Ianguage thesis. This, in effect, metaphilosophical position is of special importance for his more straightforwardly philosophical views, for he holds that philosophical investigations of the concepts of objectivity and reality grow directly out of the philosophy of thought. But I argue that some of what Dummett says about the priority of language over thought is problematic, that there may yet be a serious role for concepts within the theory of meaning, and that Dummett’s failure to acknowledge this role both hobbles his account of linguistic understanding and has deleterious consequences for his discussions of metaphysical realism-robbing him of the resources with which he might have avoided some of his anti-realist conclusions.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 1053-8364
DOI 10.5840/jpr_1998_11
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