An evolutionist approach to language

Philosophy Research Archives 5:286-319 (1979)
I argue that looking for functions that explain the survival value of various language forms taken with their characteristic cooperative hearer responses, while looking also for functions that explain the survival value of the mental or neural equipments that learn to produce and to react to these language forms, is a reasonable and promising approach to the study of language and the philosophy of mind. The approach promises to help to unify the philosophy of language, showing clearly how the semantic or representational side of language and the performance or "doing" side of language are integrated. The approach leads us, among other places, to a naturalistic theory of representations that is a distant yet genuine relative of current "causal" and "historical" theories of knowledge and of reference.
Keywords Cognitivism  Epistemology  Evolution  Language  Mind  Psycholinguistics  Semantics
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ISBN(s) 0164-0771
DOI 10.5840/pra1979516
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