The nature of semantics: On Jackendoff's arguments

Linguistic Review 22:249-270 (2005)
Jackendoff defends a mentalist approach to semantics that investigates conceptual structures in the mind/brain and their interfaces with other structures, including specifically linguistic structures responsible for syntactic and phonological competence. He contrasts this approach with one that seeks to characterize the intentional relations between expressions and objects in the world. The latter, he argues, cannot be reconciled with mentalism. He objects in particular that intentionality cannot be naturalized and that the relevant notion of object is suspect. I critically discuss these objections, arguing in part that Jackendoff’s position rests on questionable philosophical assumptions.
Keywords internalism  externalism  ontology  intentionality  philosophy of linguistics
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