Chomsky on the 'ordinary language' view of language

Synthese 120 (2):151-191 (1999)

Abstract
There is a common-sense view of language, which is held by Wittgenstein, Strawson Dummett, Searle, Putnam, Lewis, Wiggins, and others. According to this view a language consists of conventions, it is rule-governed, rules are conventionalised, a language is learnt, there are general learning mechanisms in the brain, and so on. I shall call this view the ‘ ordinary language ’ view of language. Chomsky’s attitude towards this view of language has been rather negative, and his rejection of it is a major motivation for the development of his own theory. In this paper I shall review Chomsky’s long-standing criticisms. I shall show that Chomsky’s argument does not constitute a dismissal of the ‘ordinarylanguage’ view of language, Chomsky’s conclusions about language do not follow from his argument, and the ‘ ordinary language ’ view actually points to a promising way for us to understand the true nature of language and mind.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005088716396
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