Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 6, Issue 3, 2006

Philosophy of Linguistics

Robert J. Matthews
Pages 457-467

Could Competent Speakers Really Be Ignorant of Their Language?

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.