Out of context

Ernie LePore
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
It’s been, for some time now, a pet thesis of ours that compositionality is the key constraint on theories of linguistic content. On the one hand, we’re convinced by the usual arguments that the compositionality of natural languages1 explains how L-speakers can understand any of the indefinitely many expressions that belong to L.2 And, on the other hand, we claim that compositionality excludes all “pragmatist”3 accounts of content; hence, practically all of the theories of meaning that have been floated by philosophers and cognitive scientists for the last fifty years or so. A number of objections to our claim have been suggested to us, but none that we find persuasive (see, for example, the discussions of the “uniformity principle” and of “reverse compositionality” in Fodor and Lepore 2002). These objections have a common thread: they all grant that mental and linguistic content are compositional but challenge the thesis that compositionality is incompatible with semantic pragmatism. In this paper, we want to consider an objection of a fundamentally different kind, namely, that it doesn’t matter whether compositionality excludes semantic pragmatism because compositionality isn’t true; the content of an expression supervenes not on its linguistic structure4 alone but on its linguistic structure together with the context of its tokening.5..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,954
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Do Inferential Roles Compose?Mark McCullagh - 2003 - Dialectica 57 (4):431-38.
Pure Quotation and General Compositionality.Peter Pagin & Dag Westerståhl - 2010 - Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (5):381-415.
Compositionality I: Definitions and Variants.Peter Pagin - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (3):250-264.
The Determination of Content.Zoltan Gendler Szabo - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (2):253 - 272.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
56 ( #116,382 of 2,293,899 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #411,560 of 2,293,899 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature