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Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 15, Issue 2, Mayo 2000

Mark Siebel
Pages 263-280

Red Watermelons and Large Elephants
A Case against Compositionality?

The standard argument against the compositionality of adjective-noun compounds containing "red" says that "red" does not make the same semantic contribution because a red car has to be red outside whereas a red watermelon has to be red inside. Fodor's reply to that argument is that the inside/outside feature is semantically irrelevant because "red F" just means F which is red for Fs. That account agrees with our intuitions concerning analyticity; but it seems to be in conflict with a central test for understanding: a person who knows nothing else about these expressions than what is offered by Fodor is far from applying them successfully.

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