Why the computational account of rule-following cannot rule out the grammatical account

European Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):82-104 (2001)
In recent works, Chomsky has once more endorsed a computational view of rulefollowing, whereby to follow a rule is to operate certain computations on a subject’s mental representations. As is well known, this picture does not conform to what we may call the grammatical conception of rule-following outlined by Wittgenstein, whereby an elucidation of the concept of rule-following is aimed at by isolating grammatical statements regarding the phrase ‘to follow a rule’. As a result, Chomskyan and Wittgensteinian treatments of topics immediately connected with rule-following, namely linguistic competence and understanding, are utterly different from one another. There are two possible stances that computationalists like Chomsky may adopt with regard to the discrepancy between the two aforementioned modes of dealing with rule-following, namely a conciliatory and a non-conciliatory attitude. According to the former attitude, grammatical remarks on and computationallyoriented theories of rule-following investigate one and the same topic although admittedly at different levels, namely a conceptual and an empirical one. According to the latter attitude, grammatical remarks are just a preliminary step in the investigation of rule-following which scientific advancement, presently represented by computationally-oriented theories on this matter, is well entitled to put aside. In what follows, however, I will try to show that both stances are problematic. The conciliatory attitude simply does not work, for it hardly copes with the fact that the concept of rule-following does not supervene, even weakly, on the property of rule-following, namely the property instantiated in the mental/cerebral phenomena that computationally-oriented theories of rule-following study. To take the contrary attitude, on the other hand, is to end up with another disappointing result, namely that the computational treatment of rule-following ultimately deals with something different from that which we wished to gain knowledge of when we began our inquiry into rule-following..
Keywords Computation  Grammar  Language  Rule  Semantics  Chomsky, N
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/1468-0378.00131
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,840
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
How Demonstrative Pictorial Reference Grounds Contextualism.Alberto Voltolini - 2009 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (3):402-418.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Exhuming the Body of the Corpus Delicti Rule.Clifton Perry - 2007 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 21 (2):253-264.
Taking the Self Out of Self-Rule.Michael Garnett - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (1):21-33.
The Reality of Rule-Following.Philip Pettit - 1990 - Mind 99 (393):1-21.
How to Think About Rules and Rule Following.Karsten R. Stueber - 2005 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35 (3):307-323.
Rule Following and the Background.Jeffrey Hershfield - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 28 (3):269 - 280.
The Problem of the Criterion in Rule-Following.Tomoji Shogenji - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3):501-525.
The Status of the Knowledge Account of Assertion.Frank Hindriks - 2007 - Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (3):393-406.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

39 ( #134,083 of 2,178,217 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #166,012 of 2,178,217 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums