The present discussion parallels what I regard as a very deep passage in Schiffer

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So, then, which appearance properties are sensory properties? Here’s a line that one might consider: £ is a sensory property only if it is possible to have an experience of which £-ness is the intentional object (e.g. an experience (as) of red) even though one hasn’t got the concept £ Here the test of having the concept £ would be something like beingable to think thoughts whose truth conditions include … £ … (e.g. thoughts like that’s red). I think this must be the notion of ‘sensory property’ that underlies the Empiricistidea that RED and the like are learned ‘by abstraction’ from experience, a doctrine which presupposes that a mind that lacks RED can none the less have experiences (as) ofredness. By this test, DOORKNOB is presumably not a sensory concept since, though it is perfectly possible to have an experience (as) of doorknobs, I suppose only a mindthat has the concept DOORKNOB can do so.‘But how could one have an experience (as) of red if one hasn’t got the concept RED?’ It‘s easy: in the case of redness, but notof doorknobhood, one is equipped with sensory organs which produce such experiences when they are appropriately stimulated. Redness can be sensed, whereas the perceptualdetection of doorknobhood is always inferential. Just as sensible psychologists have always supposed.

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The present discussion parallels what I regard as a very deep passage in Schiffer 1987 about being a dog. Schiffer takes for granted that ‘dog’ doesn’t name a species, and (hence?) that dogs as such don’t have a hidden essence. His conclusion is that there just isn’t (except pleonastically) any such property as being a dog My diagnosis is thatthere is too, but it’s mind-dependent.

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Reminder: ‘the X stereotype’ is rigid. See n. 12 above.

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Except in the (presumably never encountered) case where all the X s are stereotypic. In that case, there’s a dead heat.

34

In principle, they are also epistemically independent in both directions. As things are now, we find out about the stereotype by doing tests on subjects who are independentlyidentified as having the corresponding concept. But I assume that if we knew enough about the mind/brain, we could predict a concept from its stereotype and vice versa. Ineffect, given the infinite set of actual and possible doorknobs, we could predict the stereotype from which our sorts of minds would generalize to it; and given the doorknobstereotype, we could predict the set of actual and possible objects which our kinds of minds would take to instantiate doorknobhood.

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35

Compare Jackendoff: “Look at the representations of, say, generative phonology… It is strange to say that English speakers know the proposition, true in the world independent of speakers [sic ], that syllable-initial voiceless consonants aspirate before stress … In generative phonology . . . this rule of aspiration is regarded as a principle of internalcomputation, not a fact about the world. Such semantical concepts as implication, confirmation, and logical consequence seem curiously irrelevant” (1992: 29). Note that,though they are confounded in his text, the contrast that Jackendoff is insisting on isn’t between propositions and rules/principles of computation; it’s between phenomena of thekind that generative phonology studies and facts about the world. But that ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’ is a fact about the world. That is to say: it’s a fact. And of course the usuallogico-semantical concepts apply. That ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’ is what makes the claim that ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’ true; since ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’, something in‘Patrick’ is aspirated . . . and so forth.

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In just this spirit, Keith Campbell remarks about colours that if they are “integrated reflectances across three overlapping segments clustered in the middle of the total electromagnetic spectrum, then they are, from the inanimate point of view, such highly arbitrary and idiosyncratic properties that it is no wonder the particular colors we arefamiliar with are manifest only in transactions with humans, rhesus monkeys, and machines especially built to replicate just their particular mode of sensitivity to photons”(1990: 572—3). (The force of this observation is all the greater if, as seems likely, even the reflectance theory underestimates the complexity of colour psychophysics.)See alsoJ. J.Jean-marc pizano

Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

Jean-marc pizano Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

 

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It’s important to distinguish the idea that definitions typically capture only the core meaning of a univocal expression from the idea that definitions typically capture only one sense of an ambiguous expression. The latter is unobjectionable because it is responsive to pretheoretic intuitions that are often pretty emphatic: surely ‘bank’ has more thanone meaning. But who knows how many “aspects” the meaning of an un ambiguous word has? A fortiori, who knows when a theory succeeds in capturing some but not allof them?

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Examples of this tactic are legion in the literature. Consider the following, from Higginbotham 1994. “jT]he meanings of lexical items systematically infect grammar. Forexample … it is a condition of object-preposing in derived nominal constructions in English that the object be in some sense ‘affected’ in the events over which the nominalranges: that is why one has (1) but not (2)” (renumbered):1.

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algebra’s discovery (by the Arabs)

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2. *algebra’s knowledge (by the Arabs).

Note that ‘in some sense’ is doing all the work. It is what distinguishes the striking claim that preposing is sensitive to the meanings of verbs from the rather less dramatic thought that you can prepose with some verbs (including ‘discover’) and not with others (including ‘know’). You may suppose you have some intuitive grasp of what ‘affecting’amounts to here, but I think it’s an illusion. Ask yourself how much algebra was affected by its discovery? More or less, would you say, than the light bulb was affected byEdison’s inventing it?

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Fodor and Lepore (forthcoming a) provides some independent evidence for the analysis proposed here. Suppose, however, that this horse won’t run, and the asymmetryPinker points to really does show that ‘keep’ is polysemous. That would be no comfort to Jackendoff, since Jackendoff’s account of the polysemy doesn’t predict theasymmetry of entailments either: that J2 but not J3 belongs to the semantic field “possession” in Jackendoff’s analysis is pure stipulation.But I won’t stress this. Auntie says Ishould swear off ad hominems.

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Auntie’s not the only one with this grumble; Hilary Putnam has recently voiced a generalized version of the same complaint. “[O]n Fodor’s theory . . . the meaning of . . .words is not determined, even in part, by the conceptual relations among the various notions I have mastered—e.g., between ‘minute’ and my other time concepts—butdepends only on ‘nomic relations’ between the words (e.g. minute) and the corresponding universals (e.g. minutehood). These ‘universals’ are just word-shaped objects whichFodor’s metaphysics projects out into the world for the words to latch on to via mysterious ‘nomic relations’; the whole story is nothing but a ‘naturalistic’ version of theMuseum Myth of Meaning” (1995: 79; italics and scare-quotes are Putnam’s). This does seem to me to be a little underspecified. Since Putnam provides no furtherexposition (and, endearingly, no arguments at all), I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to worry that there aren’t any universals, or only that there aren’t the universals that mysemantics requires. But if Putnam thinks saying “ ‘takes a minute’ expresses the property of taking a minuté’ all by itself puts me in debt for a general refutation ofnominalism, then he needs to have his methodology examined.Still, it’s right that informational semantics needs an ontology, and that the one it opts for had better not begthe questions that a semantic theory is supposed to answer. I’ll have a lot to say about all that in Chapters 6 and 7.

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For an account of language acquisition in which the horse and cart are assigned the opposite configuration—syntax bootstraps semantics—see Gleitman 1990.Jean-marc pizano

Who could really doubt that this is so? Systematicity seems to beone of the (very few) organizational properties of minds that our cognitive science actually makes some sense of.

Jean-marc pizano Who could really doubt that this is so? Systematicity seems to beone of the (very few) organizational properties of minds that our cognitive science actually makes some sense of.

 

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If your favourite cognitive architecture doesn’t support a productive cognitive repertoire, you can always argue that since minds are really finite, they aren’t literally productive. But systematicity is a property that even quite finiteconceptual repertoires can have; it isn’t remotely plausibly a methodological artefact. If systematicity needscompositionality to explain it, that strongly suggests that the compositionality of mental representations is mandatory.For all that, there has been an acrimonious argument about systematicity in the literature for the last ten years or so.One does wonder, sometimes, whether cognitive science is worth the bother.

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Some currently popular architectures don’t support systematic representation. The representations they compute with lack constituent structure; a fortiori they lack compositional constituent structure. This is true, in particular, of ‘neuralnetworks’. Connectionists have responded to this in a variety of ways. Some have denied that concepts are systematic.Some have denied that Connectionist representations are inherently unstructured. A fair number have simply failed tounderstand the problem. The most recent proposal I’ve heard for a Connectionist treatment of systematicity is owingto the philosopher Andy Clark (1993). Clark says that we should “bracket” the problem of systematicity. “Bracket” is atechnical term in philosophy which means try not to think about.

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I don’t propose to review this literature here. Suffice it that if you assume compositionality, you can account for both systematicity and productivity; and if you don’t, you can’t. Whether or not productivity and systematicity prove thatconceptual content is compositional, they are clearly substantial straws in the wind. I find it persuasive that there are

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quite a few such straws, and they appear all to be blowing in the same direction.

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The Best Argument for Compositionality

The best argument for the compositionality of mental (and linguistic) representation is that its traces are ubiquitous; not just in very general features of cognitive capacity like productivity and systematicity, but also everywhere in itsdetails. Deny productivity and systematicity if you will; you still have these particularities to explain away.

Consider, for example: the availability of (definite) descriptions is surely a universal property of natural languages. Descriptions are nice to have because they make it possible to talk (mutatis mutandis, to think) about a thing even if itisn’t available for ostension and even if you don’t know its name; even, indeed, if it doesn’t have a name (as with ever somany real numbers). Descriptions can do this job because they pick out unnamed individuals by reference to their properties.So, for example, ‘the brown cow’ picks out a certain cow; viz. the brown one. It does so by referring to a property, viz.being brown, which that cow has and no other cow does that is contextually relevant. Things go wrong if (e.g.) there areno contextually relevant cows; or if none of the contextually relevant cows is brown; or if more than one of thecontextually relevant cows is brown . . . And so forth.

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OK, but just how does all this work? Just what is it about the syntax and semantics of descriptions that allows them to pick out unnamed individuals by reference to their properties? Answer:

i. Descriptions are complex symbols which have terms that express properties among their syntactic constituents;and

ii. These terms contribute the properties that they express to determine what the descriptions that contain themspecify.

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It’s because ‘brown’ means brown that it’s the brown cow that ‘the brown cow’ picks out. Since you can rely on this arrangement, you can be confident that ‘the brown cow’ will specify the local brown cow even if you don’t know which cowthe local brown cow is; even if you don’t know that it’s Bossie, for example, or that it’s this cow. That, however, is just tosay that descriptions succeed in their job because they are compositional. If English didn’t let you use ‘brown’ context-independently to mean brown, and ‘cow’ context-independently to mean cow, it couldn’t let you use ‘the brown coV tospecify a brown cow without naming it.

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Putnam’s idea was that, out at the edge of the web, and hence connected to nothing very much, there is a fringe of ‘one-criterion’ concepts. Criteria are ways of telling, so you’re a one-criterion concept only if there is just one way to tellthat you apply. BACHELOR qualifies because the only way to tell whether Jones is a bachelor is by finding out if he’san unmarried man. TUESDAY qualifies because the only way to tell that it’s

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Putnam’s idea was that, out at the edge of the web, and hence connected to nothing very much, there is a fringe of ‘one-criterion’ concepts. Criteria are ways of telling, so you’re a one-criterion concept only if there is just one way to tellthat you apply. BACHELOR qualifies because the only way to tell whether Jones is a bachelor is by finding out if he’san unmarried man. TUESDAY qualifies because the only way to tell that it’s

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Tuesday is by finding out if it’s the second day of the week. And so on. Well, according to Putnam, if a concept has, in this sense, only one criterion, then it is conceptually necessary (viz. constitutive of the content of the concept) that ifthe criterion is satisfied then the concept applies. So there is, after all, an epistemic clause in the theory of conceptconstitutivity. Old timers will recognize this treatment of BACHELOR and the like as close kin to the then-populartheory that DOG, CAUSE, PAIN, FORCE, WATER, INFLUENZA, and the like are “cluster” concepts. In effect, acluster concept is one for whose application there are lots of criteria.

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So, then, according to Putnam, analyticity just is one-criterionhood. The problems with this account by now seem pretty obvious; we’ll return to them in a moment. First, however, a word or two in its praise.

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To begin with, it deconfounds analyticity from centrality, thereby freeing embarrassed Quineans from having to assimilate bachelors are unmarried to F = MA. It also deconfounds analyticity from mere necessity in a way that intuitionapplauds. As I remarked above, it‘s necessary that bachelors are unmarried, and it’s again necessary that two is prime,but only the first seems to be a good candidate for a conceptual necessity since one isn’t much tempted by the thoughtthat not having the concept PRIME entails not having the concept TWO. Putnam’s story works very well here. It isprecisely because two is enmeshed in a rich—indeed an infinite—network of necessities that one hesitates to chooseamong them the ones that constitute the content of the concept. Given the plethora of necessary inferences that TWOcan mediate, who’s to say which ones your having the concept requires that you acknowledge? Similarly with the logicalparticles. And similarly, too, for FORCE and DOG (though the necessities that embed these concepts arecharacteristically metaphysical and/or nomic rather than mathematical or logical). In short, the less work a conceptdoes, the stronger the analyticity intuitions that it is able to support; just as Putnam’s account of conceptualconnectedness predicts.

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And since being well connected to the web, like being near the web’s centre, is a matter of degree, Putnam’s story explains straight off why intuitions of analyticity are graded. Nobody seriously doubts that bachelors being unmarriedis a better candidate for analyticity than dogs being animals, which is in turn a better candidate than F’s being MA,which is in turn at least as bad a candidate as two’s being prime. The gradedness of analyticity intuitions suggests somesort of epistemic construal if the alternative explanation is that they arise from such structural relations amongconcepts as containment. Containment, unlike criteriality, doesn’t plausibly come in more or less.

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So there are nice things to be said for Putnam’s account of analyticity, and I suppose that Quine’s sympathizers would have jumped at it exceptthat it is, alas, hopelessly circular. Putnam’s ‘one criterion’ test does no work unless a way to count criteria is supplied.But you can‘t count what you can’t individuate, and there looks to be no principle of individuation for criteria thatdoesn’t presuppose the notion of analyticity. Does ‘bachelor’ have one criterion (viz. unmarried man) or two (viz. unmarriedman and not married man)? That depends, inter alia, on whether “unmarried man” and “not married man” are synonyms.But if there are troubles about understanding analyticity there are the same troubles about understanding synonymy,the two being trivially interdefinable (as Quine rightly remarked in “Two dogmas”). So, it looks as though Putnam’sconstrual of analytic connection in terms of one-criterion concept leaves us back where we started; in a tight circle ofinterdefined semantic-cum-conceptual vocabulary.Jean-marc pizano

Putnam’s idea was that, out at the edge of the web, and hence connected to nothing very much, there is a fringe of ‘one-criterion’ concepts. Criteria are ways of telling, so you’re a one-criterion concept only if there is just one way to tellthat you apply. BACHELOR qualifies because the only way to tell whether Jones is a bachelor is by finding out if he’san unmarried man. TUESDAY qualifies because the only way to tell that it’s

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Putnam’s idea was that, out at the edge of the web, and hence connected to nothing very much, there is a fringe of ‘one-criterion’ concepts. Criteria are ways of telling, so you’re a one-criterion concept only if there is just one way to tellthat you apply. BACHELOR qualifies because the only way to tell whether Jones is a bachelor is by finding out if he’san unmarried man. TUESDAY qualifies because the only way to tell that it’s

Tuesday is by finding out if it’s the second day of the week. And so on. Well, according to Putnam, if a concept has, in this sense, only one criterion, then it is conceptually necessary (viz. constitutive of the content of the concept) that ifthe criterion is satisfied then the concept applies. So there is, after all, an epistemic clause in the theory of conceptconstitutivity. Old timers will recognize this treatment of BACHELOR and the like as close kin to the then-populartheory that DOG, CAUSE, PAIN, FORCE, WATER, INFLUENZA, and the like are “cluster” concepts. In effect, acluster concept is one for whose application there are lots of criteria.

So, then, according to Putnam, analyticity just is one-criterionhood. The problems with this account by now seem pretty obvious; we’ll return to them in a moment. First, however, a word or two in its praise.

To begin with, it deconfounds analyticity from centrality, thereby freeing embarrassed Quineans from having to assimilate bachelors are unmarried to F = MA. It also deconfounds analyticity from mere necessity in a way that intuitionapplauds. As I remarked above, it‘s necessary that bachelors are unmarried, and it’s again necessary that two is prime,but only the first seems to be a good candidate for a conceptual necessity since one isn’t much tempted by the thoughtthat not having the concept PRIME entails not having the concept TWO. Putnam’s story works very well here. It isprecisely because two is enmeshed in a rich—indeed an infinite—network of necessities that one hesitates to chooseamong them the ones that constitute the content of the concept. Given the plethora of necessary inferences that TWOcan mediate, who’s to say which ones your having the concept requires that you acknowledge? Similarly with the logicalparticles. And similarly, too, for FORCE and DOG (though the necessities that embed these concepts arecharacteristically metaphysical and/or nomic rather than mathematical or logical). In short, the less work a conceptdoes, the stronger the analyticity intuitions that it is able to support; just as Putnam’s account of conceptualconnectedness predicts.

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And since being well connected to the web, like being near the web’s centre, is a matter of degree, Putnam’s story explains straight off why intuitions of analyticity are graded. Nobody seriously doubts that bachelors being unmarriedis a better candidate for analyticity than dogs being animals, which is in turn a better candidate than F’s being MA,which is in turn at least as bad a candidate as two’s being prime. The gradedness of analyticity intuitions suggests somesort of epistemic construal if the alternative explanation is that they arise from such structural relations amongconcepts as containment. Containment, unlike criteriality, doesn’t plausibly come in more or less.

So there are nice things to be said for Putnam’s account of analyticity, and I suppose that Quine’s sympathizers would have jumped at it exceptthat it is, alas, hopelessly circular. Putnam’s ‘one criterion’ test does no work unless a way to count criteria is supplied.But you can‘t count what you can’t individuate, and there looks to be no principle of individuation for criteria thatdoesn’t presuppose the notion of analyticity. Does ‘bachelor’ have one criterion (viz. unmarried man) or two (viz. unmarriedman and not married man)? That depends, inter alia, on whether “unmarried man” and “not married man” are synonyms.But if there are troubles about understanding analyticity there are the same troubles about understanding synonymy,the two being trivially interdefinable (as Quine rightly remarked in “Two dogmas”). So, it looks as though Putnam’sconstrual of analytic connection in terms of one-criterion concept leaves us back where we started; in a tight circle ofinterdefined semantic-cum-conceptual vocabulary.Jean-marc pizano

Who could really doubt that this is so? Systematicity seems to beone of the (very few) organizational properties of minds that our cognitive science actually makes some sense of.

Jean-marc pizano Who could really doubt that this is so? Systematicity seems to beone of the (very few) organizational properties of minds that our cognitive science actually makes some sense of.

 

If your favourite cognitive architecture doesn’t support a productive cognitive repertoire, you can always argue that since minds are really finite, they aren’t literally productive. But systematicity is a property that even quite finiteconceptual repertoires can have; it isn’t remotely plausibly a methodological artefact. If systematicity needscompositionality to explain it, that strongly suggests that the compositionality of mental representations is mandatory.For all that, there has been an acrimonious argument about systematicity in the literature for the last ten years or so.One does wonder, sometimes, whether cognitive science is worth the bother.

Some currently popular architectures don’t support systematic representation. The representations they compute with lack constituent structure; a fortiori they lack compositional constituent structure. This is true, in particular, of ‘neuralnetworks’. Connectionists have responded to this in a variety of ways. Some have denied that concepts are systematic.Some have denied that Connectionist representations are inherently unstructured. A fair number have simply failed tounderstand the problem. The most recent proposal I’ve heard for a Connectionist treatment of systematicity is owingto the philosopher Andy Clark (1993). Clark says that we should “bracket” the problem of systematicity. “Bracket” is atechnical term in philosophy which means try not to think about.

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I don’t propose to review this literature here. Suffice it that if you assume compositionality, you can account for both systematicity and productivity; and if you don’t, you can’t. Whether or not productivity and systematicity prove thatconceptual content is compositional, they are clearly substantial straws in the wind. I find it persuasive that there are

quite a few such straws, and they appear all to be blowing in the same direction.

The Best Argument for Compositionality

The best argument for the compositionality of mental (and linguistic) representation is that its traces are ubiquitous; not just in very general features of cognitive capacity like productivity and systematicity, but also everywhere in itsdetails. Deny productivity and systematicity if you will; you still have these particularities to explain away.

Consider, for example: the availability of (definite) descriptions is surely a universal property of natural languages. Descriptions are nice to have because they make it possible to talk (mutatis mutandis, to think) about a thing even if itisn’t available for ostension and even if you don’t know its name; even, indeed, if it doesn’t have a name (as with ever somany real numbers). Descriptions can do this job because they pick out unnamed individuals by reference to their properties.So, for example, ‘the brown cow’ picks out a certain cow; viz. the brown one. It does so by referring to a property, viz.being brown, which that cow has and no other cow does that is contextually relevant. Things go wrong if (e.g.) there areno contextually relevant cows; or if none of the contextually relevant cows is brown; or if more than one of thecontextually relevant cows is brown . . . And so forth.

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OK, but just how does all this work? Just what is it about the syntax and semantics of descriptions that allows them to pick out unnamed individuals by reference to their properties? Answer:

i. Descriptions are complex symbols which have terms that express properties among their syntactic constituents;and

ii. These terms contribute the properties that they express to determine what the descriptions that contain themspecify.

It’s because ‘brown’ means brown that it’s the brown cow that ‘the brown cow’ picks out. Since you can rely on this arrangement, you can be confident that ‘the brown cow’ will specify the local brown cow even if you don’t know which cowthe local brown cow is; even if you don’t know that it’s Bossie, for example, or that it’s this cow. That, however, is just tosay that descriptions succeed in their job because they are compositional. If English didn’t let you use ‘brown’ context-independently to mean brown, and ‘cow’ context-independently to mean cow, it couldn’t let you use ‘the brown coV tospecify a brown cow without naming it.

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Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

Jean-marc pizano Couldn’t it be that the very same concept that is expressed by a single word in English gets expressed by a phrase in Bantu, or vice versa?Notice, however, that this could happen only if the English word in question is definable; viz. definable in Bantu. Since it’s going to be part of my story that most words areundefinable—not just undefinable in the language that contains them, but undefinable tout court —I’m committed to claiming that this sort of case can’t arise (very often).The issue is, of course, empirical. So be it.

 

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It’s important to distinguish the idea that definitions typically capture only the core meaning of a univocal expression from the idea that definitions typically capture only one sense of an ambiguous expression. The latter is unobjectionable because it is responsive to pretheoretic intuitions that are often pretty emphatic: surely ‘bank’ has more thanone meaning. But who knows how many “aspects” the meaning of an un ambiguous word has? A fortiori, who knows when a theory succeeds in capturing some but not allof them?

11

Examples of this tactic are legion in the literature. Consider the following, from Higginbotham 1994. “jT]he meanings of lexical items systematically infect grammar. Forexample … it is a condition of object-preposing in derived nominal constructions in English that the object be in some sense ‘affected’ in the events over which the nominalranges: that is why one has (1) but not (2)” (renumbered):1.

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algebra’s discovery (by the Arabs)

2. *algebra’s knowledge (by the Arabs).

Note that ‘in some sense’ is doing all the work. It is what distinguishes the striking claim that preposing is sensitive to the meanings of verbs from the rather less dramatic thought that you can prepose with some verbs (including ‘discover’) and not with others (including ‘know’). You may suppose you have some intuitive grasp of what ‘affecting’amounts to here, but I think it’s an illusion. Ask yourself how much algebra was affected by its discovery? More or less, would you say, than the light bulb was affected byEdison’s inventing it?

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Fodor and Lepore (forthcoming a) provides some independent evidence for the analysis proposed here. Suppose, however, that this horse won’t run, and the asymmetryPinker points to really does show that ‘keep’ is polysemous. That would be no comfort to Jackendoff, since Jackendoff’s account of the polysemy doesn’t predict theasymmetry of entailments either: that J2 but not J3 belongs to the semantic field “possession” in Jackendoff’s analysis is pure stipulation.But I won’t stress this. Auntie says Ishould swear off ad hominems.

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Auntie’s not the only one with this grumble; Hilary Putnam has recently voiced a generalized version of the same complaint. “[O]n Fodor’s theory . . . the meaning of . . .words is not determined, even in part, by the conceptual relations among the various notions I have mastered—e.g., between ‘minute’ and my other time concepts—butdepends only on ‘nomic relations’ between the words (e.g. minute) and the corresponding universals (e.g. minutehood). These ‘universals’ are just word-shaped objects whichFodor’s metaphysics projects out into the world for the words to latch on to via mysterious ‘nomic relations’; the whole story is nothing but a ‘naturalistic’ version of theMuseum Myth of Meaning” (1995: 79; italics and scare-quotes are Putnam’s). This does seem to me to be a little underspecified. Since Putnam provides no furtherexposition (and, endearingly, no arguments at all), I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to worry that there aren’t any universals, or only that there aren’t the universals that mysemantics requires. But if Putnam thinks saying “ ‘takes a minute’ expresses the property of taking a minuté’ all by itself puts me in debt for a general refutation ofnominalism, then he needs to have his methodology examined.Still, it’s right that informational semantics needs an ontology, and that the one it opts for had better not begthe questions that a semantic theory is supposed to answer. I’ll have a lot to say about all that in Chapters 6 and 7.

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For an account of language acquisition in which the horse and cart are assigned the opposite configuration—syntax bootstraps semantics—see Gleitman 1990.Jean-marc pizano