Volume 11, 1998
Cognitive Semantics II
Of Parts and Wholes
The Molecularist Critique of Semantic Holism
Pace Dummett, the issue between molecularism and holism does not turn on whether a meaning theory is compositional, but on how successful communication is conceived. Given a notion of partial understanding, molecularism escapes the two most prevalent objections against holism (learnability and communication). Holism, too, can escape these objections, provided we also grant the holist a notion of partial understanding and suitably amend our conception of successful communication.