[SydPhil] Reminder: Eduardo Garcia-Ramirez @ Thu 17 Apr 2014 15:00 - 16:30 (Current Projects)

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Wed Apr 16 14:59:50 AEST 2014

This is a reminder for:

Title: Eduardo Garcia-Ramirez
The Nature of Language: Openness
Eduardo Garcia-Ramirez
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosoficas-UNAM
edu at filosoficas.unam.mx

Pretty much since Frege (1892) our view of the nature of language has been  
the result of a particular theoretical goal: to account for linguistic  
practice. How is it that our words match our thoughts? What is the relation  
between what we say and what others reply in return? How does this relate  
to our attitudes and, eventually, behavior? The traditional approach  
answers all these questions in terms of content. Assertions inherit their  
content from thought and linguistic practice coheres in virtue of whatever  
conditions determine that content. Language and / or thought are meant to  
fully determine their content compositionally. So natural language is a  
system of representation constituted by a grammar that is closed under  
composition.  This view of the nature of language has been further  
supported by the fact that it can account for two outstanding properties of  
language: that it is productive and systematic.  On this view, content,  
what is said, or what is expressed by using language is always the result  
of compositional computing of grammar.  What can be expressed by using  
language is closed under composition. I dub this the "closed" view of  
I want to pose a challenge to this view and offer an alternative account.  
The challenge is that of explanatory sufficiency. This view of language is  
unable to account for natural language form a much wider scope including  
not only ordinary language use but also language acquisition and  
development among speakers, as well as fictional uses and lexical and  
morphological changes through history. Furthermore, even within its narrow  
scope, the closed view has problems accounting for ordinary use of  
language, as evidence mounts against the view that linguistic content is  
compositionally determined.
The alternative account is made up of the following theses:
Phenomenon: Linguistic practice is not a single phenomenon but rather a  
multiplicity of different phenomena and tasks that are laid out and  
resolved in multiple manners.
Methodology: to obtain a better account of the phenomena we must follow a  
multiplicity of different methods that go from traditional analysis of  
language to empirical studies on cognitive development, language  
acquisition and development, and historical linguistics, among others.
Theory: Linguistic practice takes place in virtue of the use of multiple  
mechanisms, including a compositional grammar,  theory of mind,  
representation decoupling, object tracking and pragmatic reasoning among  
I argue that this "open" view of the nature of language can account for a  
wider scope of evidence, including failures of substitution, fictional  
uses, as well as the productive and systematic properties of natural  

When: Thu 17 Apr 2014 15:00 - 16:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: Muniment Room, Usyd.
Calendar: Current Projects
     * Kristie Miller- creator

Event details:  

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