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.
Two central tenets of externalist theories of word individuation are: the claim that some terms derive their meaning from causal connections to the world , and the claim that some terms derive them from intentional connections to the linguistic community . A normative conception of language underlies the latter claim . It is this conception which motivates the reliance on a principle of literal interpretation in interpreting ascriptions of intentional content. ;The new theory of grammar initiated by Chomsky yields radically (...) individualistic conceptions of language and of mind incompatible with those underlying communalist theories of conceptual content. ;The feasibility of the principle of literal interpretation postulated by normativist theories depends on the possibility of identifying the language of the subject. This condition grounds an important distinction between cases of deference to science and cases of deference to communal norms. For while our shared commitments to science are a function of our sharing the same world, and thus transcend language communities, commitments to linguistic norms differ essentially across language communities. ;The conception of language and concept acquisition underlying normativism leaves unexplained the facts of language change. Moreover, the problem of concept-individuation, which communalism seeks to solve by appeal to an individual's normative commitments, merely resurfaces as that of individuating linguistic communities. ;Subjectivism provides an explanation of language change, as well as an important insight into the historical chain picture of the reference of names. ;Moreover, the view that humans are innately endowed with concepts is problematic for an externalist theory of concept-individuation. I conclude that a relational theory of concept-individuation is inconsistent with Chomskian premises. (shrink)
The two main arguments concern(1) the presence of an “enlightened complementarity” between philosophic (including scientific) and religious (not including mystic) thought, and(2) the necessity to postulate a “threefold relationship” whenever one is to gain knowledge of any kind. They are both inspired by physics (from Bohr's “strict complementarity”, resp. from Newton's fundamental postulate).God's perfection resides at least in Symmetry in a generalized (not restrictively spatial) sense. Yet, as the argument goes, Space does not “exist” as a thing. Consequently, the Great (...) Geometer (God) cannot dwell within a World He creates, and it is wrong to speak about His (God's) ‘existence’; for, existence is bound to the temporal, and Time is, together with the World, part of God's creation. Thus the only possible creation consists in God separating World and Time from Himself: This is the paradigm of Symmetry-breaking.Polytheistic mythologies all assume such and such imperfection of their deities; hence perfection is meaningful for monotheism only. A relationship of a threefold (‘trinitary’) nature must then obtain between God, World, and Time; this is analogous to Newton's postulate relating force, momentum and time. Just as the latter and its specific generalizations must be “found true” by verification, the said threefold relationship must also be found true: within philosophic thoughtmore geometrico (in a generalized sense), within religious thoughtmore “hymnometrico”. Yet the complementarity (called “enlightened”) arising between the two kinds of thought is of a higher nature than Bohr's “strict” complementarity. While it can be understood from the role assumed by language itself, it can however only be disposed of within mystic contemplation. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is two?fold. I start by contrasting three versions of externalist arguments based on etiological considerations, whose differences are not often appreciated. My purpose in doing so is to isolate one of these versions of externalism as most supportive of current anti?individualist attitudes toward the mental. My second aim is to show that this version, which I call (for reasons soon to be clear) Dialectal Etiology , is marred to a greater extent than the other two (...) by an important problem of language individuation.ii.. (shrink)