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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 6
Philosophy of Linguistics

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Displaying: 1-20 of 43 documents


articles
1. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Dunja Jutronić Introduction
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2. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Peter Ludlow The Myth of Human Language
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The author argues that the standard view about language, seen as fairly stable abstract system of communication, is a myth. Standard view is badly mistaken and the alternative picture is offered in which there is a core part of our linguistic competence that is fixed by biology and this provides a basic skeleton which is fleshed out in different ways on a conversion-by-conversation basis. Why certain people communicate with each other? The answer to this question is not because they speak the same language. We cannot see how communication can emerge from the standard picture of language if we do not start investigating the nature of our linguistic coordination strategies, since there is not a thing there -- a language -- that helps us to communicate.
3. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Alex Barber Testimony and Illusion
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This paper considers a form of scepticism according to which sentences, along with other linguistic entities such as verbs and phonemes, etc., are never realized. If, whenever a conversational participant produces some noise or other, they and all other participants assume that a specific sentence has been realized (or, more colloquially, spoken), communication will be fluent whether or not the shared assumption is correct. That communication takes place is therefore, one might think, no ground for assuming that sentences are realized during a typical conversation. I reject both this ‘folie-a-deux’ view and the arguments for it due to Georges Rey. I do so by drawing on Gilbert Harrnan’s no-false-lemmas principle. Since testimony is a form of knowledge and, according to the principle, knowledge cannot depend essentially on false assumptions, testimony is incompatible with the claim that sentence realization is but an illusion. Much of the paper is given over to defending this appeal to the no-false-lemmas principle. After all, a more attractive option might seem to be to infer instead that the principle is itself falsified by the folie-a-deux view.
4. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Barry C. Smith Why We Still Need Knowledge of Language
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In his latest book, Michael Devitt rejects Chomsky’s mentalist conception of linguistics. The case against Chomsky is based on two principal claims. First, that we can separate the study of linguistic competence from the study of its outputs: only the latter belongs to linguistic inquiry. Second, Chomsky’s account of a speaker’s competence as consisiting in the mental representation of rules of a grammar for his language is mistaken. I shall argue, first, that Devitt fails to make a case for separating the study of outputs from the study of competence, and second, that Devitt mis-characterises Chomsky’s account of competence, and so his objections miss their target. Chomsky’s own views come close to a denial that speaker’s have knowledge of their language. But a satisfactory account of what speakers are able to do will need to ascribe them linguistic knowledge that they use to speak and understand. I shall explore a conception of speaker’s knowledge of language that confirrns Chomsky’s mentalist view of linguistics but which is immune to Devitt’s criticism.
5. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Robert J. Matthews Could Competent Speakers Really Be Ignorant of Their Language?
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This paper defends the commonsense conception of linguistic competence according to which linguistic competence involves propositional knowledge of language. More specifically, the paper defends three propositions challenged by Devitt in his Ignorance af Language. First, Chomskian linguists were right to embrace this commonsense conception of linguistic cornpetence. Second, the grammars that these linguists propose make a substantive claim about the computational processes that are presumed to constitute a speaker’s linguistic competence. Third, Chomskian linguistics is indeed a subfield of psychology, in the business of characterizing the linguistic competence of speakers.
6. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
John Collins Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Dialogue on the Philosophy and Methodology of Generative Linguistics
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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 issues in linguistics should be framed in terms of the theories themselves, not pre-theoretical conceptions front either philosophy or commonsense as to what linguistics is about or what a language is. In this light, I suggest that Devitt’s key arguments (concerning parameter setting, psychological reality, and the role of intuitions) do not make sense of current linguistic inquiry and so do not offer an adequate philosophical basis of that work. To this extent, I agree with Rey. Ourdifferences emerge over the putative role of content in linguistic inquiry and how the concept of computation ought to be understood. Following the lead of Chomsky’s recent philosophical remarks, I argue that a theory of the language faculty should be understood as an abstract specification of the function that pairs ‘sound’ with ‘meaning’ rather than as a specification of the content the mind represents. But doesn’t ‘computation’ presuppose ‘representation’? I argue for a negative answer, at least if ‘representation’ is read intentionally. A ‘representation’ can be construed as brain structure that, at the present stage of inquiry, can only be picked out via the abstract concepts of linguistic theory. We are entitled to posit such structures insofar as they earn their explanatory keep over the output of the faculty. The linguistic function is a way of setting the boundary conditions on what the brain must be doing such that humans get to be competent speaker / hearers, although we do not therefore take the function to be a story of the causal spring of linguistic performance.
7. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Gurpreet Rattan The Knowledge in Language
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Is knowledge of language a kind of knowledge-that or knowledge-how? Michael Devitt’s Ignorance of Language argues that knowledge of language is a kind of knowledge-how. Devitt’s account of knowledge of language is embedded in a more general account of the nature of language as grounded in thought. The paper argues that Devitt’s view is inconsistent when thought is understood in an externalist or anti-individualist way. A key phenomenon in externalist thought experiments is the possibility of incomplete or mistaken understanding, and its correction. This phenomenon is exhibited in our knowledge of language. Expanding on some brief remarks by Chomsky, it is argued that speakers display incomplete understanding in making mistakes in linguistic judgrnents. These mistakes can be irnproved through reflection on cases. In this process of mistake, reflection, and correction, speakers’ knowledge of language remains stable despite the change in linguistic judgments. This stable knowledge of language cannot be understood as kind of knowledge-how, without making the rational efficacy of reflection a constitutive feature of knowledge-how. But to do this is to obliterate the distinction between knowledge-how and knowledge-that. The conclusion is that if externalism about thought is accepted, then the knowledge in language is a kind of knowledge-that.
8. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Nenad Miščević Intuitions: The Discrete Voice of Competence
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In Devitt’s view, linguistic intuitions are opinions about linguistic production of products, most often one’s own. They result frorn ordinary empirical investigation, so “they are immediate and fairly unreflectiveernpirical central-processor responses to linguistic phenomena”, which reactions are, moreover, theory-laden, where the ‘theory’ encompasses all sorts of speaker’s beliefs. The paper reconstructs his arguments, places his view on a map of alternative approaches to intuitions, and offers a defense of a minimalistic “voice-of-competence” view. First, intuitions are to be identified with the data, the minimal “products” of tentative linguistic production of naïve speaker-listeners, and not with their opinions about the data. Second, the data involve no theory and very little prototheory. Third, although there might be admixtures of guesswork in the conscious production of data, these are routinely weaned out by linguists. Finally, mere acceptance of the “voice of competence” does not land us in any objectionable Cartesianism: it is cornpatible with naturalism and with distrust of a priori philosophy.
9. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Georges Rey Conventions, Intuitions and Linguistic Inexistents: A Reply to Devitt
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Elsewhere I have argued that standard theories of linguistic competence are committed to taking seriously talk of “representations of” standard linguistic entities (“SLEs”), such as NPs, VPs, morphemes, phonemes, syntactic and phonetic features. However, it is very doubtful there are tokens of these “things” in space and time. Moreover, even if were, their existence would be completely inessential to the needs of either communication or serious linguistic theory. Their existence is an illusion: an extremely stable perceptual state we regularly enter as a result of being stimulated by the wave forms we regularly produce when we execute our intentions to utter such tokens (a view I call “Folieism”). In his Ignorance of Language, Michael Devitt objects to this view, arguing that, “On Rey’s view, communication seems to rest on miraculous guesses.” I argue here that my view is not prey to his objections, and actually affords a scientifically more plausible view than his “empiricist” alternative. Specifically, I reply to his objections that my view couldn’t explain the conventionality of language and success of communication (§2.1), that I am faced with intractable difficulties surrounding the identity of intentional inexistents (§2.2), and that, contrary to my view, SLEs can be relationally defined (§2.3). Not only can Folieism survive Devitt’s objections, but (§3) it also provides a more satisfactory account of the role of linguistic intuitions than the “empirical” account on which he insists.
10. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Michael Devitt Defending Ignorance of Language: Responses to the Dubrovnik Papers
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book reviews
11. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Dunja Jutronić The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky
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12. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Maja Malec Modality and Tense: Philosophical Papers
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articles
13. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Nenad Miščević Introduction
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14. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
George Pappas Access Internalism
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Access internalism about epistemic justification is the thesis that a person’s justification for a belief is directly accessible to that person, in the sense that the person can have direct awareness of whatever is functioning as the actual justification for the belief. This thesis is distinguished into a weak and a strong version, and a number of arguments in favor of the access internalist position are assessed. It is concluded that none of the arguments in support of access internalism is satisfactory.
15. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
David Henderson, Terry Horgan Transglobal Reliabilism
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We here propose an account of what it is for an agent to be objectively justified in holding some belief. We present in outline this approach, which we call transglobal reliabilism, and we discuss how it is motivated by various thought experiments. While transglobal reliabilism is an externalist epistemology, we think that it accommodates traditional internalist concerns and objections in a uniquely natural and respectful way.
16. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Mikael Janvid Contextualism in Doubt
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This paper is a critical examination of epistemological contextualism as a response to the skeptical challenge with focus upon Michael Williams’ version. Unclarities in his response are initially pointed out and various unsatisfactory ways of elaborating upon them discussed. Next, it is argued that Williams’ candidate epistemological realism with the priority thesis at its core does not provide the key to how traditional epistemology becomes exposed to skepticism. The thesis that knowledge-claims necessarily are justified with recourse to sensory experience and the principle of underdetermination are instead advanced as the features that skepticism exploit. At last, a case is made that both these claims are accepted by contextualism, and that it therefore is as exposed to skepticism as traditional epistemology is.
17. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Pascal Engel Logic, Reasoning and the Logical Constants
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What is the relationship between logic and reasoning? How do logical norms guide inferential performance? This paper agrees with Gilbert Harman and most of the psychologists that logic is not directly relevant to reasoning. It argues, however, that the mental model theory of logical reasoning allows us to harmonise the basic principles of deductive reasoning and inferential perfomances, and that there is a strong connexion between our inferential norms and actual reasoning, along the lines of Peacocke’s conception of inferential role.
18. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Dale Jacquette Applied Mathematics in the Sciences
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A complete philosophy of mathematics must address Paul Benacerraf’s dilemma. The requirements of a general semantics for the truth of mathematical theorems that coheres also with the meaning and truth conditions for non-mathematical sentences, according to Benacerraf, should ideally be coupled with an adequate epistemology for the discovery of mathematical knowledge. Standard approaches to the philosophy of mathematics are criticized against their own merits and against the background of Benacerraf’s dilemma, particularly with respect to the problem of understanding the distinction between pure and applied mathematics and the effectiveness of applied mathematics in the natural sciences and engineering. The evaluation of these alternatives provides the basis for articulating a philosophically advantageous Aristotelian inherence concept of mathematical entities. An inherence account solves Benacerraf’s dilemma by interpreting mathematical entities as nominalizations of structural spatiotemporal properties inhering in existent spatiotemporal entities.
19. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
William A. Roche Can A Coherentist Be An Externalist?
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It is standard practice, when distinguishing between the foundationalist and the coherentist, to construe the coherentist as an internalist. The coherentist, the construal goes, says that justification is solely a matter of coherence, and that coherence, in turn, is solely a matter of internal relations between beliefs. The coherentist, so construed, is an internalist (in the sense I have in mind) in that the coherentist, so construed, says that whether a belief is justified hinges solely on what the subject is like mentally. I argue that this practice is fundamentally misguided, by arguing that the foundationalism / coherentism debate and the internalism / externalism debate are about two very different things, so that there is nothing, qua coherentist, precluding the coherentist from siding with the externalist. I then argue that this spells trouble for two of the three most pressing and widely known objections to coherentism: the Alternative-Systems Objection and the Isolation Objection.
20. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Alexandre Costa-Leite Fusions of Modal Logics and Fitch’s Paradox
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This article shows that although Fitch’s paradox has been extremely widely studied, up to now no correct formalization of the problem has been proposed. The purpose of this article is to present the paradox front the viewpoint of combining logics. It is argued that the correct minimal logic to state the paradox is composed by a fusion of modal frames, and a fusion of modal languages and logics.