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Volume 11, 1998

Cognitive Semantics II

Barbara Fultner
Pages 41-65

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.