Chomsky among the philosophers

Mind and Language 17 (3):276-289 (2002)

A major recurrent feature of the intellectual landscape in cognitive science is the appearance of a collection of essays by Noam Chomsky. These collections serve both to inform the wider cognitive science community about the latest developments in the approach to the study of language that Chomsky has advocated for almost fifty years now,1 and to provide trenchant criticisms of what he takes to be mistaken philosophical objections to this approach. This new collection contains seven essays, the earliest of which were first published about ten years ago. So the linguistic work that is summarised is within the principles and parameters approach and some of the essays (particularly the first and last) provide an outline of the main ideas of the emerging minimalist programme.2 But this is not primarily a book about the details of recent linguistic theory. Rather, in these essays Chomsky offers a wealth of critical commentary on some of the most influential arguments in the philosophy of mind and language that have appeared over the past two decades or so. Indeed, Chomsky discusses a vast range of philosophical topics and reaches some radical conclusions – that many influential philosophical discussions on language and mind are utterly misconceived and that, for example, the traditional mind-body problem cannot even be coherently stated.
Keywords Language  Mind  Naturalism  Science  Chomsky, N
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DOI 10.1111/1468-0017.00200
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