Why Language Exists

Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (1):1-12 (2012)
Abstract
There are words. There are sentences. There are languages. Commonsense linguistic realism is the conjunction of the three preceding claims. Linguists and philosophers including Noam Chomsky (1986, 2000), Georges Rey (2006, 2008), and Barry C. Smith (2006) have presented skeptical doubts regarding the existence of linguistic entities. These doubts provide no good reason to deny commonsense linguistic realism. Some skeptical doubts are in fact not directed at the metaphysical thesis of commonsense linguistic realism but rather only at non-metaphysical methodological concerns. In some instances, linguistic antirealists make their case by foisting upon the realist assumptions that she need not hold regarding the nature of linguistic entities. Furthermore, those who have denied the existence of linguistic entities have not themselves presented an alternative account of words, sentences, or languages that is coherentor defensible. I present an elaboration and defense of commonsense linguistic realism as a metaphysical thesis, with the aim of deflating concerns that have arisen about the existence of language
Keywords linguistics  metaphysics  ontology  language  realism  methodology  Georges Rey  Barry C. Smith
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DOI croatjphil201212112
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