Conventions and Their Role in Language

Philosophia 41 (1):137-158 (2013)
Two of the most fundamental questions about language are these: what are languages?; and, what is it to know a given language? Many philosophers who have reflected on these questions have presented answers that attribute a central role to conventions. In one of its boldest forms such a view runs as follows. Languages are either social entities constituted by networks of social conventions or abstract objects where when a particular community speaks a given language they do so in virtue of the conventions operative within that community. Consequently, for an individual to know a given language is for them to be party to the relevant conventions. Call this view conventionalism. In this article my aim is to evaluate conventionalism. I will argue that although there are linguistic conventions and that they do play an important role in language development and communication conventionalism should be rejected in favour of a more psychologistically orientated position
Keywords Conventions  Communication  Meaning  Syntax  Universal Grammar
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-012-9380-7
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Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Harvard University Press.

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