Philosophical Studies 125 (2):251-275 (2005)

Authors
Philip Robbins
University of Missouri, Columbia
Abstract
In the context of debates about what form a theory of meaning should take, it is sometimes claimed that one cannot understand an intersective modifier-head construction (e.g., ‘pet fish’) without understanding its lexical parts. Neo-Russellians like Fodor and Lepore contend that non-denotationalist theories of meaning, such as prototype theory and theory theory, cannot explain why this is so, because they cannot provide for the ‘reverse compositional’ character of meaning. I argue that reverse compositionality is a red herring in these debates. I begin by setting out some positive arguments for reverse compositionality and showing that they fail. Then I show that the principle of reverse compositionality has two big strikes against it. First, it is incompatible with all theories of meaning on the market, including the denotationalism favored by neo-Russellians. Second, it explains nothing that is not already explained by its venerable predecessor, the principle of (forward) compositionality.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Philosophy of Mind   Philosophy of Religion
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11098-005-7785-x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,219
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

Concepts and Cognitive Science.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 1999 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press. pp. 3-81.
English as a Formal Language.Richard Montague - 1970 - In Bruno Visentini (ed.), Linguaggi nella societa e nella tecnica. Edizioni di Communita. pp. 188-221.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Compositionality.Zoltán Gendler Szabó - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Composition of Thoughts.Richard Heck & Robert May - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):126-166.
On Compositionality.Martin Jönsson - 2008 - Dissertation, Lund University
Concept Empiricism, Content, and Compositionality.Collin Rice - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (3):567-583.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Rationalist Compositionality Won't Go Away (Either).Víctor M. Verdejo - 2009 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 24 (1):29-47.
Why Rationalist Compositionality Won't Go Away (Either).Víctor Martín Verdejo Aparicio - 2009 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 24 (1):29-47.
Learnability and Compositionality.Douglas Patterson - 2005 - Mind and Language 20 (3):326–352.
Compositionality and Structured Propositions.Lorraine Juliano Keller & John A. Keller - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (4):313-323.
Hybrid Extensional Prototype Compositionality.Jussi Jylkkä - 2011 - Minds and Machines 21 (1):41-56.
In Defense of Reverse Inference.Edouard Machery - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (2):251-267.
Compositionality and Modest Inferentialism.James Trafford - 2014 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy (1):39-56.
Frege, Contextuality and Compositionality.Theo M. V. Janssen - 2001 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 10 (1):115-136.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
69 ( #154,869 of 2,448,420 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,843 of 2,448,420 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes