This edited volume offers ten new essays on semantics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of linguistics by top scholars in the field. Covering a wide range of topics, the collection is sure to be of interest to scholars in those areas as well as some philosophers of mind. Because of the diversity of topics and perspectives inherent in the collection, readers will find both exposition and debate among the contributors.
Like so many sciences, linguistics originated from philosophy's rib. It reached maturity and attained full independence only in the twentieth century (for example, it is a well-known fact that the first linguistics department in the UK was founded in 1944); though research which we would now classify as linguistic (especially leading to generalizations from comparing different languages) was certainly carried out much earlier. The relationship between philosophy and linguistics is perhaps reminiscent of that between an (...) old-fashioned mother and her emancipated daughter, and is certainly asymmetric. And though from philosophy's rib, empirical investigation methods have ensured that linguistics has evolved (just as in the case of the more famous rib) into something far from resembling the original piece of bone. Another side of the same asymmetry is that while linguistics focuses exclusively on language (or languages), for philosophy language seems less pervasive - philosophy of language being merely one branch among many. However, during the twentieth century this asymmetry was substantially diminished by the so called linguistic turn1, undergone by numerous philosophers – this turn was due to the realization that as language is the universal medium for our grasping and coping with the world, its study may provide the very key for all other philosophical disciplines. As for the working methods, we could perhaps picture the difference between a philosopher of language and a linguist by means of the following simile. Imagine two researchers both asked to investigate an unknown landscape. One hires a helicopter, acquires a birds-eye view of the whole landscape and draws a rough, but comprehensive map. The other takes a camera, a writing pad and various instruments, and walks around, taking pictures and making notes of the kinds of rocks, plants and animals which he finds. Whose way is the more reasonable? Well, one wants to say, neither, for they seem to be complementary.. (shrink)
In light of the sharp linguistic turn philosophy has taken in this century, this collection provides a much-needed and long-overdue reference for philosophical discussion. The first collection of its kind, it explores questions of the nature and existence of linguistic objects--including sentences and meanings--and considers the concept of truth in linguistics. The status of linguistics and the nature of language now take a central place in discussions of the nature of philosophy; the essays in this volume (...) both inform these discussions and lay the groundwork for further examination. (shrink)
This article surveys the philosophical literature on theoretical linguistics. The focus of the paper is centred around the major debates in the philosophy of linguistics, past and present, with specific relation to how they connect to the philosophy of science. Specific issues such as scientific realism in linguistics, the scientific status of grammars, the methodological underpinnings of formal semantics, and the integration of linguistics into the larger cognitive sciences form the crux of the discussion.
This groundbreaking collection, the most thorough treatment of the philosophy of linguistics ever published, brings together philosophers, scientists and historians to map out both the foundational assumptions set during the second half of ...
Any acceptable account of moral epistemology must accord with the following points. (1) Different people acquire seemingly very different moralities. (2) All normal people acquire a moral sense, whether or not they are given explicit moral instruction. Language resembles morality in these ways. There is considerable evidence from linguistics for linguistic universals. This suggests that (3) despite the first point, there are moral universals. If so, it might be possible to develop a moral epistemology that is analogous to the (...) theory of universal grammar in linguistics. In what follows, I will try to sketch what might be involved in such a moral epistemology. (shrink)
This book draws on recent developments in research on Ferdinand de Saussure's general linguistics to challenge the structuralist doctrine associated with the Course in General Linguistics and to propose a phenomenological interpretation of Saussure's study of language.
After reviewing some major features of theinteractions between Linguistics and Philosophyin recent years, I suggest that the depth and breadthof current inquiry into semanticshas brought this subject into contact both with questionsof the nature of linguistic competence and with modern andtraditional philosophical study of the nature ofour thoughts, and the problems of metaphysics.I see this development as promising for thefuture of both subjects.
Linguistics, Anthropology and Philosophy in the French Enlightenment treats the development of linguistic thought from Descartes to Degerando as both a part of and a determining factor in the emergence of modern consciousness. Through his careful analyses of works by the most influential thinkers of the time, author Ulrich Ricken demonstrates that the central significance of language in the philosophy of the enlightenment is how it reflected and acted upon contemporary understanding of humanity as a whole. Although (...) primarily focused on French thought between 1650 and 1800, the author discusses contemporary developments in England, Germany and Italy and covers an unusually broad range of writers and ideas, including Leibniz, Wolff, Herder and Humboldt. This study places the history of language philosophy within the broader context of the history of ideas, aesthetics and historical anthropology and will be of interest to scholars working in these disciplines. (shrink)
Demonstrative noun phrases (e.g., that guy , this ) are of interest to philosophers of language and semanticists because they are sensitive to demonstrations or speaker intentions. The interpretation of a demonstrative therefore sheds light on the role of the context in natural language semantics. This survey reviews two types of approaches to demonstratives: Kaplan's direct reference treatment of demonstratives and other indexicals, and recent challenges to Kaplan's approach that focus on less obviously context-sensitive uses of demonstratives. The survey then (...) covers selected research on demonstratives in linguistics. This research offers new empirical puzzles and contrasting theoretical approaches to demonstratives. (shrink)
This book deals with the need to rethink the aims and methods of contemporary linguistics. Orthodox linguists' discussions of linguistic form fail to exemplify how language users become language makers. Integrationist theory is used here as a solution to this basic problem within general linguistics. The book is aimed at an interdisciplinary readership, comprising those engaged in study, teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences, including linguistics, philosophy, sociology and psychology.
Noam Chomsky’s well-known claim that linguistics is a “branch of cognitive psychology” has generated a great deal of dissent—not from linguists or psychologists, but from philosophers. Jerrold Katz, Scott Soames, Michael Devitt, and Kim Sterelny have presented a number of arguments, intended to show that this Chomskian hypothesis is incorrect. On both sides of this debate, two distinct issues are often conflated: (1) the ontological status of language and (2) the relation between psychology and linguistics. The ontological issue (...) is, I will argue, not the relevant issue in the debate. Even if this Chomskian position on the ontology of language is false, linguistics may still be a subfield of psychology if the relevant methods in linguistic theory construction are psychological. Two options are open to the philosopher who denies Chomskian conceptualism: linguistic nominalism or linguistic platonism. The former position holds that syntactic, semantic, and phonological properties are primarily properties, not of mental representations, but rather of public languagesentence tokens; The latter position holds that the linguistic properties are properties of public language sentence types. I will argue that both of these positions are compatible with Chomsky’s claim that linguistics is a branch of psychology, and the arguments that have been given for nominalism and platonism do not establish that linguistics and psychology are distinct disciplines. (shrink)
In this chapter we use methods of corpus linguistics to investigate the ways in which mathematicians describe their work as explanatory in their research papers. We analyse use of the words explain/explanation (and various related words and expressions) in a large corpus of texts containing research papers in mathematics and in physical sciences, comparing this with their use in corpora of general, day-to-day English. We find that although mathematicians do use this family of words, such use is considerably less (...) prevalent in mathematics papers than in physics papers or in general English. Furthermore, we find that the proportion with which mathematicians use expressions related to ‘explaining why’ and ‘explaining how’ is significantly different to the equivalent proportion in physics and in general English. We discuss possible accounts for these differences. (shrink)
Linguists take the intuitive judgments of speakers to be good evidence for a grammar. Why? The Chomskian answer is that they are derived by a rational process from a representation of linguistic rules in the language faculty. The paper takes a different view. It argues for a naturalistic and non-Cartesian view of intuitions in general. They are empirical central-processor responses to phenomena differing from other such responses only in being immediate and fairly unreflective. Applying this to linguistic intuitions yields an (...) explanation of their evidential role without any appeal to the representation of rules. Introduction The evidence for linguistic theories A tension in the linguists' view of intuitions Intuitions in general Linguistic intuitions Comparison of the modest explanation with the standard Cartesian explanation A nonstandard Cartesian explanation of the role of intuitions? Must linguistics explain intuitions? Conclusion. (shrink)
As hopes that generative linguistics might solve philosophical problems about the mind give way to disillusionment, old problems concerning the relationship between linguistics and philosophy survive unresolved. This collection surveys the historical engagement between the two, and opens up avenues for further reflection. In Part 1 two contrasting views are presented of the interface nowadays called 'philosophy of linguistics '. Part 2 gives a detailed historical survey of the engagement of analytic philosophy with linguistic (...) problems during the present century, and sees the imposition by philosophers of an 'exploratory' model of thinking as a major challenge to the discipline of linguistics. Part 3 poses the problem of whether linguistics is dedicated to describing independently existing linguistic structures or to imposing its own structures on linguistic phenomena. In Part 4 Harris points out some similarities in the way an eminent linguist and an eminent philosopher invoke the analogy between languages and games; while Taylor analyses the rationale of our metalinguistic claims and their relationship to linguistic theorizing. Providing a wide range of views and ideas this book will be of interest to all those interested and involved in the interface of philosophy and linguistics. (shrink)
During the first half of the present century a number of outstanding philosophers realized that language theory could profitably be viewed as far more than merely a means of studying one among the many human faculties, or merely sharpening the tool we use to philosophize - they realized that there is a sense in which philosophy of language comprises (almost) the whole of philosophy. This was the famous linguistic turn: philosophers came to accept that everything that is is (...) in a sense through language, and that to study what there is is to study what our words mean.1 The enigma of the language-world relationship was brought to the centre of philosophical discussion early in this century by Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Austin and others. Their original point was that we cannot take the representing capacities of language at face value, that in order to treat of things - which cannot be done save with the help of words - we must first treat of words and make sure which of them are really capable of treating of things. Thus the philosophers undergoing the linguistic turn slowly gave up asking what is consciousness (matter, evil etc.)? in favour of asking what is the meaning of 'consciousness' ('matter', 'evil' etc.)? This simple turn seemed to have tremendous consequences for philosophy. By replacing the question what is consciousness? by the question what is the meaning of 'consciousness'? we seem to lose nothing (any meaningful answer to the former question seems to be recoverable from an answer to the latter), and yet it seems to take us from the weird realms of mind to the commonplace domain of language, from the troublesome immersing into people's heads to straightforward observing how they use words. It also seems to guard against the "bewitchment of our reason by language" (Wittgenstein) caused by words which are only seemingly meaningful: such questions as what does the word 'ether' stand for? can be answered simply by nothing, whereas the question what is ether? presupposes that there is something as ether (as.... (shrink)
Michael Devitt has argued that Chomsky, along with many other Linguists and philosophers, is ignorant of the true nature of Generative Linguistics. In particular, Devitt argues that Chomsky and others wrongly believe the proper object of linguistic inquiry to be speakers' competences, rather than the languages that speakers are competent with. In return, some commentators on Devitt's work have returned the accusation, arguing that it is Devitt who is ignorant about Linguistics. In this note, I consider whether there (...) might be less to this apparent dispute than meets the eye. -/- . (shrink)
In his Preface, Vendler acknowledges the influence of Ziff, who taught him philosophy; Harris, who taught him linguistics; and Austin, who made him see the connection of the two. The influence of these three is manifest in both the philosophical style and content of this book. The opening chapter reviews the dispute between the staunch defenders of ordinary language analysis and the champions of the new transformational linguistics. Vendler sensitively reviews the claims and counterclaims concluding that (...) class='Hi'>linguistics is helpful in analytic philosophy "and its empirical source need not sully the transcendental purity of philosophical thought." The chapters that follow set out to show just how linguistics and a sensitive ear for English can help us through the tangle of issues in getting clear about singular terms; quantifiers; verbs and time; facts and events; effects, results, and consequences; and the grammar of goodness. Vendler's inquiries, which may appear oblique, are always directed at those concepts that have been central to philosophy. And in the course of his analyses, even the unsympathetic will probably be provoked and illuminated.—R. J. B. (shrink)
This paper presents a novel semantic analysis of unit names (like pound and meter) and gradable adjectives (like tall, short and happy), inspired by measurement theory (Krantz et al. In Foundations of measurement: Additive and Polynomial Representations, 1971). Based on measurement theory’s four-way typology of measures, I claim that different adjectives are associated with different types of measures whose special characteristics, together with features of the relations denoted by unit names, explain the puzzling limited distribution of measure phrases, as well (...) as unit-based comparisons between predicates (as in the table is longer than it is wide). All considered, my analyses support the view that the grammar of natural languages is sensitive to features of measurement theory. (shrink)
Naturalized metaphysics is based on the idea that philosophy should be guided by the sciences. The paradigmatic science that is relevant for metaphysics is physics because physics tells us what fundamental reality is ultimately like. There are other sciences, however, that de facto play a role in philosophical inquiries about what there is, one of them being the science of language, i.e. linguistics. In this paper I will be concerned with the question what role linguistics should and (...) does play for the metametaphysical question of how our views about fundamental reality can be reconciled with the everyday truisms about what there is. I will present several examples of two kinds of approaches to this question, linguistics-based accounts and purely philosophical accounts, and will discuss their respective methodological merits and shortcomings. In the end I will argue that even proponents of a purely philosophical answer to the metametaphysical question should take the results of linguistics seriously. (shrink)
This paper discusses several case studies that illustrate the relationship between the philosophy of language and three branches of linguistics: syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Among other things, I identify binding arguments in the linguistics literature preceding (Stanley 2000), and I invent binding arguments to evaluate various semantic and pragmatic theories of belief ascriptions.