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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 21, Issue 2, 2021

Zoltán Vecsey
Pages 285-299

Chomsky’s London

Semantic externalism is the view according to which proper names and other nominals have the capacity to refer to language-independent objects. On this view, the proper name ‘London’ is related semantically to a worldly object, London. Chomsky’s long held position is that this relational conception of reference is untenable. According to his internalist framework, semantics should be restricted to the examination of the informational features of I-language items. Externalists reject this restriction by saying that without employing the relational notion of reference, it would remain entirely mysterious how we can talk about our perceptible environment. This paper offers a novel argument for externalism. The basic idea is that external reference proves to be indispensable even for Chomskyans who regard our talk about the environment as irrelevant for the purposes of semantics.