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Area: Philosophy of Language

| Brown | Cowie | Kuykendall | Maddy | Mercier | Millikan | Teichman |


Brown, D.

Brown,# D. (1996) The Puzzle of Names in Ockham's Theory of Mental Language. Review of Metaphysics 50 (1): 79- 100
Kw: Mental language; Ockham

Examines philosopher William of Ockham's theory of mental language. Problems with the notion of a mental language devoid of synonymous and ambiguous terms; Basic principles of Ockham's theory of terms; Absolute and connotative terms and their modes of acquisition; Description of mental language with redundancy.


Cowie, F.

Cowie,# F. (1997) The Logical Problem of Language Acquisition. Synthese: An International Journal for Epistemology, Methodology and Philosophy of Science 111(1): 17- 51

Kw: Universal Grammar, domain-specificity

Arguments from the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition suggest that since linguistic experience provides few negative data that would falsify overgeneral grammatical hypotheses, innate knowledge of the principles of Universal Grammar must constrain learners hypothesis formulation. Although this argument indicates a need for domain-specific constraints, it does not support their innateness. Learning from mostly positive data proceeds unproblematically in virtually all domains. Since not every domain can plausibly be accorded its own special faculty, the probative value of the argument in the linguistic case is dubious. In ignoring the holistic and probablistic nature of theory construction, the argument underestimates the extent to which positive data can supply negative evidence and hence overestimates the intractability of language learning in the absence of a dedicated faculty. While nativism about language remains compelling, the alleged Logical Problem contributes nothing to its plausibility and the emphasis on the Problem in the recent acquisition literature has been a mistake.


Kuykendall, E.

Kuykendall,# E. (1989). Feminist Linguistics in Philosophy. In M. Vetterling- Braggin (ed.) Sexist Language Totowa: Littlefield Adams.

Kw: Feminism; linguistics; social philosophy

Three methodological assumptions are proposed, with examples, for the development of a feminist linguistics: (1) presuppositions of gender in the structure of language, as well as its meaning and its use, are cultural rather than individual; (2) there is a clash between cultural and individual assumptions of gender indicative of an irrationality not captured by the standard competence/performance distinction and found in speakers of either sex; 3) speakers and hearers can become self-reflectively aware of these clashes by making them explicit.


Maddy, P.

Maddy,# P. (1988). Believing the Axioms: I. Journal of Symbolic Logic 53 (2):481-511

Kw: Axiom; continuum; hypothesis; large cardinals; logic; set theory

Philosophers often claim that mathematical axioms are obvious or self-evidently true, but this does not match the practice of modern set theory. In fact, set theorists offer a wide range of arguments for and against axiom candidates, and the description and evaluation of these arguments presents an important challenge to the philosopher. The paper and its sequel ('Believing the axioms#, ii', "jsl" 53, 1988, pp. 736-64) take a first step in the direction of such an account.


Maddy,# P. (1998). Believing the Axioms: II. (1988). Journal of Symbolic Logic 53 (3):736-764

Kw: Axiom; compactness; determinacy; large cardinals; logic; set theory

The axioms of mathematics are often characterized as obvious or self-evident, but this description does not fit the axioms of set theory. This paper and its predecessor aim to survey the grounds on which set theoretic axioms are believed and to raise the question of when and whether these grounds are rational. Part i covers the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms, the continuum problem, small large cardinals and measurable cardinals. Part ii covers determinacy and large cardinals, and ends with some philosophical remarks.

Mercier, A.

Mercier,# A. (2007): Meaning and Necessity: Can Semantics Stop Same-Sex Marriage? Essays in Philosophy, Vol 8, No 1

Kw: same-sex marriage, meaning, necessity, concepts

Think of this paper as an exercise in applied philosophy of language. It has both semantic and deontic concerns. More than about the meaning of ‘marriage,’ it is about how one goes about determining the meaning of social kind terms like ‘marriage’. But it is equally about the place of philosophy of language in the legislative sphere, and inter alia, about the roles and responsibilities of philosophers in public life.


Mercier,# Adele (1996): A Perverse Case of the Contingent A Priori: On the Logic of Emasculating Language (A Reply to Dawkins and Dummett). Philosophical Topics (special ed. S. Haslanger), Arkansas University Press

Kw: sex-neutral language, 'Man', 'he' vs 'she', sex-neutral pronouns, masculine language

This paper provides a definite argument that allegedly sex-neutral generic 'man' and sex-neutral pronouns are not. It shows that they acts as vehicles for a perverse contingent a priori that masculinizes the logic of the language.


Millikan, R

Millikan,# R. (1990). Truth-rules, Hoverflies, and the Kripke-Wittgenstein Paradox. Philosophical Review 99 (3): 323-53

Kw: language; naturalism; rule; truth

A naturalist solution to the Kripke-Wittgenstein paradox is offered. The solution is based on a biological theory of the nature of an ability or competence. A result is that it is just as easy to explain how a speaker might exhibit through his practice a grasp of correspondence truth rules as to explain how he might grasp unification ones. This blocks one route of Putnam's and Dummett's retreat from realism.


Teichman, J.

Teichman,# J. (1974). Wittgenstein on 'Can'. Analysis 34 (4): 113- 117

Kw: Ability; can; language; language game; possibility

Abstract not available


Teichman,# J. (1969). Universals and Common Properties. Analysis 29 (5): 162- 165

Kw: Universal; language

Abstract not available


Teichman,# J. (1961). Propositions. Philosophical Review 70: 500- 517

Kw: Existence; identity; logic; proposition; sentence; statement; truth value

Teichmann considers two objections to the claim that there are such things as propositions, the objection that the notion is superfluous, and that it is obscure. She devotes most of her discussion to the latter objection, especially to the claim that no satisfactory criterion of identity has been given for propositions. She considers several analyses of propositions, and shows how criteria, though perhaps not necessary and sufficient conditions, can be worked out for propositions.