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  1. Causation and Counterfactuals.John Collins, Ned Hall & Laurie Paul (eds.) - 2004 - MIT Press.
    Thirty years after Lewis's paper, this book brings together some of the most important recent work connecting—or, in some cases, disputing the connection ...
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  2. Counterfactuals and causation: history, problems, and prospects.John Collins, Ned Hall & L. A. Paul - 2004 - In John Collins, Ned Hall & Laurie Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. MIT Press. pp. 1--57.
    Among the many philosophers who hold that causal facts1 are to be explained in terms of—or more ambitiously, shown to reduce to—facts about what happens, together with facts about the fundamental laws that govern what happens, the clear favorite is an approach that sees counterfactual dependence as the key to such explanation or reduction. The paradigm examples of causation, so advocates of this approach tell us, are examples in which events c and e— the cause and its effect— both occur, (...)
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  3.  61
    The copredication argument.John Collins - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (7):675-702.
    The standard view of truth-conditional semantics is that it is world-involving in the sense that a theory that specifies truth conditions eo ipso is a theory that specifies the way the world must be if the target sentences are to be true. It would appear to follow that the semantic properties of expressions, such as nominals, specify the very worldly objects that make true or false the sentences that host the nominals. Chomsky and others have raised a fundamental complaint against (...)
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  4. Syntax, More or Less.John Collins - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):805-850.
    Much of the best contemporary work in the philosophy of language and content makes appeal to the theories developed in generative syntax. In particular, there is a presumption that—at some level and in some way—the structures provided by syntactic theory mesh with or support our conception of content/linguistic meaning as grounded in our first-person understanding of our communicative speech acts. This paper will suggest that there is no such tight fit. Its claim will be that, if recent generative theories are (...)
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  5. Ned Hall, and LA Paul, editors.John Collins - 2004 - In Ned Hall, L. A. Paul & John Collins (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. Cambridge: Mass.: Mit Press. pp. 12.
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  6. The redundancy of the act.John Collins - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3519-3545.
    The theory that structured propositions are complex act-types has been independently articulated by Peter Hanks and Scott Soames. The present paper argues that the role of the act in such theories is supererogatory, for the individuation conditions of the act-based propositions remain wholly at the level of concepts and their formal combination, features which the traditional structured proposition theorist endorses. Thus, it is shown that the traditional problems for structured propositions are only ameliorable on the act conception by appeal to (...)
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  7.  86
    The Unity of Linguistic Meaning.John Collins - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
    John Collins presents a new analysis of the problem of the unity of the proposition-how propositions can be both single things and complexes at the same time. He surveys previous investigations of the problem and offers his own novel and uniquely satisfying solution, which is defended from both philosophical and linguistic perspectives.
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  8. The big bad bug: What are the humean's chances?John Bigelow, John Collins & Robert Pargetter - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):443-462.
    Humean supervenience is the doctrine that there are no necessary connections in the world. David Lewis identifies one big bad bug to the programme of providing Humean analyses for apparently non-Humean features of the world. The bug is chance. We put the bug under the microscope, and conclude that chance is no special problem for the Humean.
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  9.  30
    Preemptive Prevention.John Collins - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):223.
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  10. Preemptive prevention.John Collins - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):223-234.
    As the ball flew towards us I leapt to my left to catch it. But it was you, reacting more rapidly than I, who caught the ball just in front of the point at which my hand was poised. Fortunate for us that you took the catch. The ball was headed on a course which, unimpeded, would have taken it through the glass window of a nearby building. Your catch prevented the window from being broken.
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  11. Genericity sans Gen.John Collins - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):34-64.
    Generics are exception-admitting generalisations, which find expression in apparently diverse linguistic forms. A standard claim is that there is a hidden linguistic unity to genericity in the form of a covert operator, Gen. This article surveys and rejects a range of considerations that purport to show Gen to be syntactically essential to the explanation of a range of linguistic phenomena connected to genericity. The conclusion reached is that genericity is not a specifically linguistic property insofar as it does not supervene (...)
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  12. Faculty disputes.John Collins - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (5):503-33.
    Jerry Fodor, among others, has maintained that Chomsky's language faculty hypothesis is an epistemological proposal, i.e. the faculty comprises propositional structures known (cognized) by the speaker/hearer. Fodor contrasts this notion of a faculty with an architectural (directly causally efficacious) notion of a module. The paper offers an independent characterisation of the language faculty as an abstractly specified nonpropositional structure of the mind/brain that mediates between sound and meaning—a function in intension that maps to a pair of structures that determine soundmeaning (...)
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  13. The Evil-God Challenge: Extended and Defended.John M. Collins - 2019 - Religious Studies 55 (1):85-109.
    Stephen Law developed a challenge to theism, known as the evil-god challenge (Law (2010) ). The evil-god challenge to theism is to explain why the theist’s responses to the problem of evil are any better than the diabolist’s – who believes in a supremely evil god – rejoinders to the problem of good, when all the theist’s ploys (theodicy, sceptical theism, etc.) can be parodied by the diabolist. In the first part of this article, I extend the evil-god challenge by (...)
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  14.  20
    A norm of aesthetic assertion and its semantic (in)significance.John Collins - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (10):973-1003.
    ABSTRACT The paper proposes that the distinctive features of aesthetic assertion are due to a special norm governing such assertion rather than any semantic features of aesthetic predication. The norm is elaborated as a reading of Kant’s analysis of aesthetic judgment. Apart from the proposed norm capturing various features of aesthetic assertion, it is supported by various linguistic considerations that point to the semantic profile of predicates of personal taste and aesthetic predicates being in fact alike with respect to the (...)
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  15.  41
    Isolation of the muscular component in a proprioceptive spatial aftereffect.John K. Collins - 1971 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 90 (2):297.
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  16. Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism: Rethinking Philosophical Method.Eugen Fischer & John Collins (eds.) - 2015 - London: Routledge.
    Experimental philosophy is one of the most exciting and controversial philosophical movements today. This book explores how it is reshaping thought about philosophical method. Experimental philosophy imports experimental methods and findings from psychology into philosophy. These fresh resources can be used to develop and defend both armchair methods and naturalist approaches, on an empirical basis. This outstanding collection brings together leading proponents of this new meta-philosophical naturalism, from within and beyond experimental philosophy. They explore how the empirical study of philosophically (...)
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  17.  10
    Linguistic Pragmatism and Weather Reporting.John Collins - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    John Collins defends the doctrine of linguistic pragmatism--arguing that linguistic meaning alone fails to fix truth conditions and detailing the relative sparseness of what language alone can provide to semantic interpretation--through his novel analysis of the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of weather reporting.
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  18. Neophobia.John Collins - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):283-300.
    L. A. Paul argues that epistemically transformative choice poses a special problem for standard theories of decision: when values of outcomes cannot be known in advance, deliberation cannot even get started. A standard response to this is to represent ignorance of the nature of an experience as uncertainty about its utility. Assign subjective probabilities over the range of possible utilities it may have, and an expected utility for the outcome can be figured despite the agent’s ignorance of its nature. But (...)
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  19. Truth or meaning? A question of priority.John Collins - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (3):497-536.
    There is an incompatibility between the deflationist approach to truth, which makes truth transparent on the basis of an antecedent grasp of meaning, and the traditional endeavour, exemplified by Davidson, to explicate meaning through of truth. I suggest that both parties are in the explanatory red: deflationist lack a non-truth-involving theory of meaning and Davidsonians lack a non-deflationary account of truth. My focus is on the attempts of the latter party to resolve their problem. I look in detail at Davidson's (...)
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  20.  82
    Knowledge of Language Redux.John Collins - 2008 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):3-43.
    The article takes up a range of issues concerning knowledge of language in response to recent work of Rey, Smith, Matthews and Devitt. I am broadly sympathetic with the direction of Rey, Smith, and Matthews. While all three are happy with the locution ‘knowledge of language’, in their different ways they all reject the apparent role for a substantive linguistic epistemology in linguistic explanation. I concur but raise some friendly concerns over even a deflationary notion of knowledge of language. Against (...)
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  21.  75
    The syntax of personal taste.John Collins - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):51-103.
  22. Meta-scientific Eliminativism: A Reconsideration of Chomsky's Review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior.John Collins - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (4):625-658.
    The paper considers our ordinary mentalistic discourse in relation to what we should expect from any genuine science of the mind. A meta-scientific eliminativism is commended and distinguished from the more familiar eliminativism of Skinner and the Churchlands. Meta-scientific eliminativism views folk psychology qua folksy as unsuited to offer insight into the structure of cognition, although it might otherwise be indispensable for our social commerce and self-understanding. This position flows from a general thesis that scientific advance is marked by an (...)
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  23. Cutting it (too) fine.John Collins - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (2):143-172.
    It is widely held that propositions are structured entities. In The Nature and Structure of Content (2007), Jeff King argues that the structure of propositions is none other than the syntactic structure deployed by the speaker/hearers who linguistically produce and consume the sentences that express the propositions. The present paper generalises from King’s position and claims that syntax provides the best in-principle account of propositional structure. It further seeks to show, however, that the account faces severe problems pertaining to the (...)
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  24. Rationalism and Naturalism in the Age of Experimental Philosophy.Eugen Fischer & John Collins - 2015 - In Eugen Fischer & John Collins (eds.), Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism, and Naturalism. Rethinking Philosophical Method. Routledge. pp. 3-33.
    The paper outlines the evolution of on-going meta-philosophical debates about intuitions, explains different notions of 'intuition' employed in these debates, and argues for the philosophical relevance of intuitions in an aetiological sense taken from cognitive psychology. On this basis, it advocates a new kind of methodological naturalism which it finds implicit, for instance, in the warrant project in experimental philosophy: a meta-philosophical naturalism that promotes the use of scientific methods in meta-philosophical investigations. This 'higher-order' naturalism is consistent with both methodological (...)
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  25. Methodology, not metaphysics: Against semantic externalism.John Collins - 2009 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 83 (1):53-69.
    Borg (2009) surveys and rejects a number of arguments in favour of semantic internalism. This paper, in turn, surveys and rejects all of Borg's anti-internalist arguments. My chief moral is that, properly conceived, semantic internalism is a methodological doctrine that takes its lead from current practice in linguistics. The unifying theme of internalist arguments, therefore, is that linguistics neither targets nor presupposes externalia. To the extent that this claim is correct, we should be internalists about linguistic phenomena, including semantics.
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  26.  43
    The Diversity of Fiction and Copredication: An Accommodation Problem.John Collins - 2019 - Erkenntnis 86 (5):1197-1223.
    The paper presents an accommodation problem for extant semantic accounts of fiction. Some accounts of fiction are designed to accommodate one or another form of fictive statement exclusively, what I shall call in-fiction and out-fiction. Thus, typically, the accounts fail to do justice to their respective excluded form. A natural response, entertained by Kripke and in a different fashion by latter-day Meinongians, is to let the two different kinds of fiction have their respective accounts. It is very easy, however, to (...)
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  27. Unsharpenable Vagueness.John Collins & Achille C. Varzi - 2000 - Philosophical Topics 28 (1):1-10.
    A plausible thought about vagueness is that it involves semantic incompleteness. To say that a predicate is vague is to say (at the very least) that its extension is incompletely specified. Where there is incomplete specification of extension there is indeterminacy, an indeterminacy between various ways in which the specification of the predicate might be completed or sharpened. In this paper we show that this idea is bound to founder by presenting an argument to the effect that there are vague (...)
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  28.  61
    Simple belief.John Collins - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):4867-4885.
    We have reasons to want an epistemology of simple belief in addition to the Bayesian notion of belief which admits of degree. Accounts of simple belief which attempt to reduce it to the notion of credence all face difficulties. We argue that each conception captures an important aspect of our pre-theoretic thinking about epistemology; the differences between the two accounts of belief stem from two different conceptions of unlikelihood. On the one hand there is unlikelihood in the sense of improbability, (...)
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  29.  51
    Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Dialogue on the Philosophy and Methodology of Generative Linguistics.John Collins - 2006 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):469-503.
    My contribution takes up a set of methodological and philosophical issues in linguistics that have recently occupied the work of Devitt and Rey. Devitt construes the theories of generative linguistics as being about an external linguistic reality of utterances, inscriptions, etc.; that is, Devitt rejects the ‘psychologistic’ construal of linguistics. On Rey’s conception, linguistics concerns the mental contents of speaker / hearers; there are no external linguistic items at all. I reject both views. Against Devitt, I argue that the philosophical (...)
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  30.  24
    Internalist priorities in a philosophy of words.John Collins - 2023 - Synthese 201 (3):1-33.
    Words appear to be denizens of the external world or, at any rate, not wholly mental, unlike our pains. It is the norm for philosophical accounts of words to reflect this appearance by offering various socio-cultural conditions to which an adequate account of wordhood must cleave. The paper argues, to the contrary, that an adequate account of word phenomena need avert to nothing other than individual psychology along with potential external factors that in-themselves do not count as linguistic. My principal (...)
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  31.  95
    Nativism: In defense of a biological understanding.John M. Collins - 2005 - Philosophical Psychology 18 (2):157-177.
    In recent years, a number of philosophers have argued against a biological understanding of the innate in favor of a narrowly psychological notion. On the other hand, Ariew ((1996). Innateness and canalization. Philosophy of Science, 63, S19-S27. (1999). Innateness is canalization: in defense of a developmental account of innateness. In V. Hardcastle (Ed.), Where biology meets psychology: Philosophical essays (pp. 117-138). Cambridge, MA: MIT.) has developed a novel substantial account of innateness based on developmental biology: canalization. The governing thought of (...)
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  32.  43
    A Note on Conventions and Unvoiced Syntax.John Collins - 2008 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):241-247.
    This note briefly responds to Devitt’s (2008) riposte to Collins’s (2008a) argument that linguistic realism prima facie fails to accommodate unvoiced elements within syntax. It is argued that such elements remain problematic. For it remains unclear how conventions might target the distribution of PRO and how they might explain hierarchical structure that is presupposed by such distribution and which is not witnessed in concrete strings.
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  33.  19
    II—John Collins: Methodology, Not Metaphysics: Against Semantic Externalism.John Collins - 2009 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 83 (1):53-69.
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  34.  12
    Representations without Representa: Content and Illusion in Linguistic Theory.John Collins - 2014 - In Piotr Stalmaszczyk (ed.), Semantics and Beyond: Philosophical and Linguistic Inquiries. Preface. De Gruyter. pp. 27-64.
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  35.  60
    Conjoining meanings without losing our heads.John Collins - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):224-236.
    The paper has two principal aims. First, Pietroski's sparse account of semantic composition will be favourably compared to the familiar full Frege hierarchy of composed semantic types. Second, I shall introduce the idea of a head as employed in linguistics and pose the problem of how to square Pietroski's compositional principles with the asymmetry entailed by headedness. The paper will leave the problem of headedness as an outstanding issue to be resolved.
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  36.  70
    Belief, Desire, and Revision.John Collins - 1988 - Mind 97 (387):333 - 342.
  37.  10
    Attending to Race Does Not Increase Race Aftereffects.Nicolas Davidenko, Chan Q. Vu, Nathan H. Heller & John M. Collins - 2016 - Frontiers in Psychology 7.
  38. Philosophy of Linguistics.Georges Rey, Alex Barber, John Collins, Michael Devitt & Dunja Jutronic - 2008 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 8 (23).
     
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  39. On the input problem for massive modularity.John M. Collins - 2004 - Minds and Machines 15 (1):1-22.
    Jerry Fodor argues that the massive modularity thesis – the claim that (human) cognition is wholly served by domain specific, autonomous computational devices, i.e., modules – is a priori incoherent, self-defeating. The thesis suffers from what Fodor dubs the input problem: the function of a given module (proprietarily understood) in a wholly modular system presupposes non-modular processes. It will be argued that massive modularity suffers from no such a priori problem. Fodor, however, also offers what he describes as a really (...)
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  40. Cowie on the poverty of stimulus.John Collins - 2003 - Synthese 136 (2):159-190.
    My paper defends the use of the poverty of stimulus argument (POSA) for linguistic nativism against Cowie's (1999) counter-claim that it leaves empiricism untouched. I first present the linguistic POSA as arising from a reflection on the generality of the child's initial state in comparison with the specific complexity of its final state. I then show that Cowie misconstrues the POSA as a direct argument about the character of the pld. In this light, I first argue that the data Cowie (...)
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  41.  40
    How Long Can a Sentence Be and Should Anyone Care?John Collins - 2010 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 10 (3):199-207.
    It is commonly assumed that natural languages, construed as sets of sentences, contain denumerably many sentences. One argument for this claim is that the sentences of a language must be recursively enumerable by a grammar, if we are to understand how a speaker-hearer could exhibit unbounded competence in a language. The paper defends this reasoning by articulating and defending a principle that excludes the construction of a sentence non-denumerably many words long.
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  42.  96
    Representations without Representa: Content and Illusion in Linguistic Theory.John Collins - 2014 - In Piotr Stalmaszczyk (ed.), Semantics and Beyond: Philosophical and Linguistic Inquiries. Preface. De Gruyter. pp. 27-64.
  43. (Uea).John Collins - manuscript
    (i) Languages are indefinitely various along every dimension. (ii) Languages are essentially systems of habit/dispositions. (iii) Languages are learnt from experience via analogy and generalisation. (iv) There is no component of the speaker/hearer’s psychology that is..
     
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  44. Impossible Words Again: Or Why Beds Break but Not Make.John Collins - 2011 - Mind and Language 26 (2):234-260.
    Do lexical items have internal structure that contributes to, or determines, the stable interpretation of their potential hosts? One argument in favour of the claim that lexical items are so structured is that certain putative verbs appear to be ‘impossible’, where the intended interpretation of them is apparently precluded by the character of their internal structure. The adequacy of such reasoning has recently been debated by Fodor and Lepore and Johnson, but to no apparent resolution. The present paper argues that (...)
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  45. Linguistic competence without knowledge of language.John Collins - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (6):880–895.
    Chomsky's competence/performance distinction has been traditionally understood as a distinction between our knowledge of language and how we put that knowledge to use. While this construal has its purposes, this article argues that the distinction as Chomsky proposes it depends upon no substantiation of the knowledge locution; rather, the distinction is intended to abstract one system out of an ensemble of systems whose integration underlies performance. The article goes on to assess and reject an argument that the knowledge locution, independent (...)
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  46.  50
    Expressions, Sentences, Propositions.John Collins - 2003 - Erkenntnis 59 (2):233 - 262.
    The paper articulates and defends the view that paired structures of mentally 'represented' phonological and semantic features should, for all theoretical purposes, replace the notions of proposition and sentence. Following Chomsky, I refer to such pairs as expressions (EXP). In the first part, I elaborate the notion of an EXP and contrast it with that of sentence/proposition. The paper's second part questions a range of considerations which putatively show that propositions are fundamental to our understanding of meaning and cognitive attitudes. (...)
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  47.  11
    Chomsky and Intentionality.John Collins & Georges Rey - 2021 - In Nicholas Allott, Terje Lohndal & Georges Rey (eds.), A Companion to Chomsky. Wiley. pp. 488–502.
    This chapter describes some basic, often puzzling features of intentionality, with an eye to its role not so much in ordinary folk ascriptions but in serious psychological explanations, especially in many of Noam Chomsky's own presentations of his theory. It then considers Chomsky's censure of the notion, leading him to deny what would seem to be the explicit intentionalisms on which he seems to rely. Implicit in Chomsky's treatment of grammar is the idea that the positing of the language faculty (...)
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  48.  31
    Genericity as a Unitary Psychological Phenomenon: An Argument from Linguistic Diversity.John Collins - 2015 - Ratio 28 (4):369-394.
    So-called ‘generics’ are members of a diverse class of constructions that express generalisations that do not directly involve any precise cardinality of individuals, but rather the kinds or ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ members of the kinds contributed by arguments of the predicate. The paper argues that genericity as a unitary phenomenon of human thought has a psychological, rather than linguistic, basis. This claim is argued for by way of a survey of the linguistic diversity of the forms of genericity, and the (...)
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  49. Epistemic closure principles.John M. Collins - 2006 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This is an encyclopedia article about epistemic closure principles. The article explains what they are, their various philosophical uses, how they are argued for or against, and provides an overview of the related literature.
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  50.  42
    Horwich's schemata meet syntactic structures.John Collins - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):399-432.
    Paul Horwich (1998), following a number of others, proposes a schematic compositional format for the specification of the meanings of complex expressions. The format is schematic in the sense that it identifies grammatical schemata that do not presuppose any particular account of primitive word meanings: whatever the nature of meanings, the application of the schemata to them will serve to explain compositionality. This signals, for Horwich, that compositionality is a non-substantive constraint on theories of meaning. Drawing on a range of (...)
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