Download Language: A Biological Model by Ruth Garrett Millikan PDF

By Ruth Garrett Millikan

Ruth Millikan is celebrated for having built a strikingly unique manner for philosophers to hunt knowing of brain and language, which she sees as organic phenomena. She now attracts jointly a chain of groundbreaking essays which set out her method of language. Guiding the paintings of such a lot linguists and philosophers of language this day is the idea that language is ruled by way of prescriptive normative ideas. Millikan bargains a essentially diversified method of viewing the partial regularities that language monitors, evaluating them to organic norms that emerge from typical choice. This yields novel and relatively radical effects for our knowing of the character of public linguistic which means, the method of language realizing, how young ones study language, and the semantics/pragmatics contrast.

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A reproduction must be such that had the original been different in specifiable respects the reproduction would have differed accordingly. Inherited traits and behaviors are not ‘reproduced’ in this sense. I have blue eyes not directly because my mother and/or father had, but because of my genes, which were copied from their genes, which were not, however, copied from their eyes. Had my mother’s or father’s eyes been yellowed from jaundice, that would not have caused my eyes to be yellow. A reproduction is always a reproduction only in certain respects.

Chomsky is right to reject this latter alternative, but there is no need to accept the former. I will offer a third alternative, that I hope he will find more palatable. But given this third alternative, it will become clear that the function of the overwhelming majority of conventional language forms is to enable various kinds of communication. The argument will be, then, that a central function of the language faculty in humans is to make language conventions possible, and that the functions of conventions are to make communication possible.

Chomsky 1985: 32) ‘Analogy’, in this context, could mean just sameness in abstract or relational form. Producing new speech forms on analogy with old could mean just some sort of reproduction, as I am using the latter term. But what people more usually have in mind when they speak of ‘analogy’ in this context is a fairly free sort of reproduction, that might pick up one aspect of the original or might pick up another. That language learning and use involve analogy in this free sense is something that both Chomsky and I want firmly to deny.

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