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7.3c. The Role of Language in Thought (The Role of Language in Thought on PhilPapers)

Allwood, Jens (1996). On Wallace Chafe's How Consciousness Shapes Language. Pragmatics and Cognition 4 (1):55-64.   (Google)
Andreacchio, Marco (2009). Review of Vico and Plato. Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 36 (2).   (Google)
Antony, Louise M. (ed.) (2003). Chomsky and His Critics. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing.   (Cited by 17 | Google | More links)
Appelbaum, Irene (1999). The dogma of isomorphism: A case study from speech perception. Philosophy of Science 66 (3):S250-S259.   (Google | More links)
Bechtel, William P. (1987). Psycholinguistics as a case of cross-disciplinary research. Synthese 72 (September):293-311.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Bermudez, Jose Luis (2003). Language and thinking about thoughts. In Thinking Without Words. Oup.   (Google)
Bermudez, Jose Luis (2003). The limits of thinking without words. In Thinking Without Words. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Bever, Thomas G. (ed.) (1984). Talking Minds: The Study Of Language In The Cognitive Sciences. Cambridge: Mit Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Bickerton, Derek (1996). Language and Human Behavior. Seattle: University Washington Press.   (Cited by 334 | Google | More links)
Bishop, John D. (1980). More thought on thought and talk. Mind 89 (January):1-16.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Blumenthal, Arthur L. (1987). The emergence of psycholinguistics. Synthese 72 (September):313-323.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Bogdan, Radu J. (2008). Predicative Minds: The Social Ontogeny of Propositional Thinking. MIT Press/Bradford Books.   (Google)
Braybrooke, David (1963). Personal beliefs without private languages. Review of Metaphysics 16 (June):672-686.   (Google)
Byrne, Darragh (forthcoming). Three notions of tacit knowledge. Agora.   (Google | More links)
Campbell, John (1986). Conceptual structure. In C. Travis (ed.), Meaning and Interpretation. Blackwell.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Abstract: in Charles Travis (ed.), Meaning and Interpretation (Oxford and New York: Blackwell 1986), 159-174
Camp, Elisabeth (online). Metaphor in the mind.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Philosophers have often adopted a dismissive attitude toward metaphor. Hobbes (1651, ch. 8) advocated excluding metaphors from rational discourse because they “openly profess deceit,” while Locke (1690, Bk. 3, ch. 10) claimed that figurative uses of language serve only “to insinuate wrong ideas, move the passions, and thereby mislead the judgment; and so indeed are perfect cheats.” Later, logical positivists like Ayer and Carnap assumed that because metaphors like..
Campbell Manson, Neil (2002). What does language tell us about consciousness? First-person mental discourse and higher-order thought theories of consciousness. Philosophical Psychology 15 (3):221 – 238.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The fact that we can engage in first-person discourse about our own mental states seems, intuitively, to be bound up with consciousness. David Rosenthal draws upon this intuition in arguing for his higher-order thought theory of consciousness. Rosenthal's argument relies upon the assumption that the truth-conditions for "p" and "I think that p" differ. It is argued here that the truth-conditional schema debars "I think" from playing one of its (expressive) roles and thus is not a good test for what is asserted when "I think" is employed in making an assertoric utterance. The critique of Rosenthal's argument allows us to make explicit the intuitions which shape higher-order representation theories of consciousness in general. Consciousness and first-person mental discourse seem to be connected primarily because consciousness is (and was) an epistemic term, used to denote first-person knowledge of minds. Higher-order thought theories of consciousness draw upon this epistemic notion of consciousness, and because self-knowledge seems to involve higher-order representation, the higher-order theorist can deploy what is in effect an "error theory" about conscious experience disguised as a kind of conceptual analysis of our ordinary concept of a conscious mental state. The conclusion reached is that there is unlikely to be a simple or direct path from considerations about mental discourse to conclusions about the nature of consciousness
Carruthers, Peter (1998). Distinctively human thinking. In Peter Carruthers & Jill Boucher (eds.), Language and Thought. Cambridge.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Carroll, John B. (1964). Language And Thought. Prentice Hall.   (Cited by 73 | Google)
Carruthers, Peter (2008). Language in cognition. In E. Margolis, R. Samuels & S. Stich (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: In E. Margolis, R. Samuels, and S. Stich (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press, 2008
Carruthers, Peter (2002). The cognitive functions of language. Behavioral And Brain Sciences 25 (6):657-674.   (Cited by 192 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper explores a variety of different versions of the thesis that natural language is involved in human thinking. It distinguishes amongst strong and weak forms of this thesis, dismissing some as implausibly strong and others as uninterestingly weak. Strong forms dismissed include the view that language is conceptually necessary for thought (endorsed by many philosophers) and the view that language is _de facto_ the medium of all human conceptual thinking (endorsed by many philosophers and social scientists). Weak forms include the view that language is necessary for the acquisition of many human concepts, and the view that language can serve to scaffold human thought processes. The paper also discusses the thesis that language may be the medium of _conscious_ propositional thinking, but argues that this cannot be its most fundamental cognitive role. The idea is then proposed that natural language is the medium for non-domain-specific thinking, serving to integrate the outputs of a variety of domain-specific conceptual faculties (or central-cognitive ‘quasi-modules’). Recent experimental evidence in support of this idea is reviewed, and the implications of the idea are discussed, especially for our conception of the architecture of human cognition. Finally, some further kinds of evidence which might serve to corroborate or refute the hypothesis are mentioned. The overall goal of the paper is to review a wide variety of accounts of the cognitive function of natural language, integrating a number of different kinds of evidence and theoretical consideration in order to propose and elaborate the most plausible candidate
Castaneda, Hector-Neri (1989). Thinking, Language, And Experience. Minneapolis: University Of Minn Press.   (Cited by 45 | Google)
Chomsky, Noam A. (1976). Reflections On Language. Temple Smith.   (Cited by 1123 | Google | More links)
Chrucky, Andrew (1990). Sellars on language and thought. In Andrew Chrucky (ed.), Critique of Wilfrid Sellars' Materialism.   (Google)
Clark, Andy (1996). Linguistic anchors in the sea of thought? Pragmatics and Cognition 4 (1):93-103.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Andy Clark is currently Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Philosophy/Neuroscience/Psychology program at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author of two books MICROCOGNITION (MIT Press/Bradford Books 1989) and ASSOCIATIVE ENGINES (MIT Press/Bradford Books, 1993) as well as numerous papers and four edited volumes. He is an ex- committee member of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science and of the Society for Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behavior. Awards include a visiting Fellowship at the Australia National University, Canberra in 1989, and an ESRC Senior Research Leave Fellowship in 1992. He is an Associate of BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES, serves on the editorial boards of the journals
Clark, Andy (1998). Magic words: How language augments human computation. In Peter Carruthers & Jill Boucher (eds.), Language and Thought: Interdisciplinary Themes. Cambridge.   (Cited by 61 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Of course, words aren’t magic. Neither are sextants, compasses, maps, slide rules and all the other paraphenelia which have accreted around the basic biological brains of homo sapiens. In the case of these other tools and props, however, it is transparently clear that they function so as to either carry out or to facilitate computational operations important to various human projects. The slide rule transforms complex mathematical problems (ones that would baffle or tax the unaided subject) into simple tasks of perceptual recognition. The map provides geographical information in a format well-suited to aid complex planning and strategic military operations. The compass gathers and displays a kind of information that (most) unaided human subjects do not seem to command. These various tools and props thus act to generate information, or to store it, or to transform it, or some combination of the three. In so doing, they impact our individual and collective problem- solving capacities in much the same dramatic ways as various software packages impact the performance of a simple pc
Clark, Andy (2005). Word, niche and super-niche: How language makes minds matter more. Theoria 20 (54):255-268.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: How does language (spoken or written) impact thought? One useful way to approach this important but elusive question may be to consider language itself as a cognition-enhancing animal-built structure. To take this perspective is to view language as a kind of self-constructed cognitive niche. These self-constructed cognitive niches play, I suggest, three distinct but deeply interlocking roles in human thought and reason. Working together, these three interlocking routines radically transform the human mind, and mark a genuine discontinuity in the space of anitnal minds
Cockburn, David (2001). Language, belief and human beings. In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Minds and Persons. Cambridge University Press.   (Google | More links)
Cohen, L. Jonathan (1982). Chess as a model of language. Philosophia 11 (February):51-87.   (Google | More links)
Collins, John M. (2005). Faculty disputes. Mind and Language 19 (5):503-33.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Jerry Fodor, among others, has maintained that Chomsky's language faculty hypothesis is an epistemological proposal, i.e. the faculty comprises propositional structures known (cognized) by the speaker/hearer. Fodor contrasts this notion of a faculty with an architectural (directly causally efficacious) notion of a module. The paper offers an independent characterisation of the language faculty as an abstractly specified nonpropositional structure of the mind/brain that mediates between sound and meaning—a function in intension that maps to a pair of structures that determine soundmeaning convergence. This conception will be elaborated and defended against a number of likely complaints deriving from Fodor's faculty/module distinction and other positions which seek to credit knowledge of language with an empirical or theoretical significance. A recent explicit argument from Fodor that Chomsky must share his conception will be diagnosed and the common appeal to implicit knowledge as a foundation for linguistic competence will be rejected
Croom, Adam M. (2008). Racial Epithets: What We Say and Mean by Them. Dialogue 51 (1):34-45.   (Google)
Abstract: Racial epithets are terms used to characterize people on the basis of their race, and are often used to harm the people that they target. But what do racial epithets mean, and how do they work to harm in the way that they do? In this essay I set out to answer these questions by offering a pragmatic view of racial epithets, while contrasting my position with Christopher Hom's semantic view.
Dascal, Marcelo (2002). Language as a cognitive technology. International Journal of Cognition and Technology 1 (1):35-61.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: _Ever since Descartes singled out the ability to use natural language appropriately in any given circumstance as the proof_ _that humans – unlike animals and machines – have minds, an idea that Turing transformed into his well-known test to_ _determine whether machines have intelligence, the close connection between language and cognition has been widely_ _acknowledged, although it was accounted for in quite different ways. Recent advances in natural language processing, as_ _well as attempts to create “embodied conversational agents” which couple language processing with that of its natural_ _bodily correlates (gestures, facial expression and gaze direction), in the hope of developing human-computer interfaces_ _based on natural – rather than formal – language, have again brought to the fore the question of how far we can hope_ _machines to be able to master the cognitive abilities required for language use. In this paper, I approach this issue from a_ _different angle, inquiring whether language can be viewed as a “cognitive technology”, employed by humans as a tool_ _for the performance of certain cognitive tasks. I propose a definition of “cognitive technology” that encompasses both_ _external (or “prosthetic”) and internal cognitive devices. A number of parameters in terms of which a typology of_ _cognitive technologies of both kinds can be sketched is also set forth. It is then argued that inquiring about language’s_ _role in cognition allows us to re-frame the traditional debate about the relationship between language and thought, by_ _examining how specific aspects of language actually influence cognition – as an environment, a resource, or a tool. This_ _perspective helps bring together the contributions of the philosophical “linguistic turn” in epistemology and the incipient_ _“epistemology of cognitive technology” It also permits a more precise and fruitful discussion of the question whether, to_ _what extent, and which of the language-based cognitive technologies we naturally use can be emulated by the kinds of_ _technologies presently or in the foreseeable future available.
Davidson, Donald (1997). Seeing through language. In John M. Preston (ed.), Thought and Language. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 17 | Google)
Davies, Martin (1986). Tacit knowledge and the structure of thought and language. In Charles S. Travis (ed.), Meaning and Interpretation. Blackwell.   (Cited by 19 | Google)
Davies, Martin (1987). Tacit knowledge and semantic theory: Can a five percent difference matter? Mind 96 (October):441-62.   (Cited by 33 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In his paper ‘Scmantic Theory and Tacit Knowlcdgc’, Gareth Evans uscs a familiar kind of cxamplc in ordcr to render vivid his account of tacit knowledge. We arc to consider a finite language, with just one hundrcd scntcnccs. Each scntcncc is made up of a subjcct (a name) and a prcdicatc. The names are ‘a’, ‘b’, . . ., T. The prcdicatcs arc ‘F’, ‘G’, . . ., ‘O’. Thc scntcnccs have meanings which dcpcnd in a systematic way upon their construction. Thus, all scntcnccs containing ‘a’ mean something about john; all scntcnccs containing ‘b’ mean something about Harry; all scntcnccs containing ‘F’ mean something about being bald; all scntcnccs containing ‘G’ mean something about being happy; and so 011. For this vcry simple language L, wc arc to consider various semantic theories. We could consider thcorics whosc dclivcranccs about wholc scntcnccs are of..
De Cruz, Helen (2009). Is linguistic determinism an empirically testable hypothesis? Logique et Analyse 208:327-341.   (Google)
De Cruz, Helen & Pica, Pierre (2008). Knowledge of number and knowledge of language: Number as a test case for the role of language in cognition. Philosophical Psychology 21 (4):437 – 441.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The relationship between language and conceptual thought is an unresolved problem in both philosophy and psychology. It remains unclear whether linguistic structure plays a role in our cognitive processes. This special issue brings together cognitive scientists and philosophers to focus on the role of language in numerical cognition: because of their universality and variability across languages, number words can serve as a fruitful test case to investigate claims of linguistic relativism
Dennett, Daniel C. (2000). Making tools for thinking. In Dan Sperber (ed.), Metarepresentations. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 17 | Google)
Dennett, Daniel C. (1998). Reflections on language and mind. In Peter Carruthers & Jill Boucher (eds.), Language and Thought: Interdisciplinary Themes. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 44 | Google)
Abstract: A theme that emerged at the Sheffield Conference with particular force, to my way of thinking, was a new way of recognizing, and then avoiding, a seductive bad idea. One of its many guises is what I have called the Cartesian Theater, but it also appears in the roles of Central Processing, or Central Executive, or Norman and Shallice's SAS, or Fodor's non-modular central arena of belief fixation. What is wrong with this idea is not (just) that it (apparently) postulates an _anatomically_ discernible central region of the brain--maximally non-peripheral, one might say--but that it supposes that there is a functionally identifiable _subsystem_ (however located or even distributed in the brain) that has some all too remarkable competences achieved by some all too remarkable means. There are many routes to it. Here is one that starts off in an excellent direction but then veers off. The mistaken fork is not explicitly endorsed by anybody that I can think of, but I daresay it has covertly influenced a lot of thinking on the topic
Dennett, Daniel C. (1994). The role of language in intelligence. In Jean Khalfa (ed.), What is Intelligence? The Darwin College Lectures. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Abstract: We human beings may not be the most admirable species on the planet, or the most likely to survive for another millennium, but we are without any doubt at all the most intelligent. We are also the only species with language. What is the relation between these two obvious facts?
Dennett, Daniel C. (online). Verbal language as a communicative system.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: We human beings may not be the most admirable species on the planet, or the most likely to survive for another millennium, but we are without any doubt at all the most intelligent. We are also the only species with language. What is the relation between these two obvious facts?
Devitt, Michael (2006). Intuitions in linguistics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (3):481-513.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Linguists take the intuitive judgments of speakers to be good evidence for a grammar. Why? The Chomskian answer is that they are derived by a rational process from a representation of linguistic rules in the language faculty. The paper takes a different view. It argues for a naturalistic and non-Cartesian view of intuitions in general. They are empirical central-processor responses to phenomena differing from other such responses only in being immediate and fairly unreflective. Applying this to linguistic intuitions yields an explanation of their evidential role without any appeal to the representation of rules. Introduction The evidence for linguistic theories A tension in the linguists' view of intuitions Intuitions in general Linguistic intuitions Comparison of the modest explanation with the standard Cartesian explanation A nonstandard Cartesian explanation of the role of intuitions? Must linguistics explain intuitions? Conclusion
Devitt, Michael (2006). Ignorance of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 19 | Google)
Devitt, Michael (2003). Linguistics is not psychology. In Alex Barber (ed.), Epistemology of Language. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Devitt, Michael (1989). Linguistics: What's wrong with 'the right view'. Philosophical Perspectives 3:497-531.   (Google | More links)
DeWitt, Richard (1995). Vagueness, semantics, and the language of thought. Psyche 1.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Emmett, Kathleen (1988). Meaning and mental states. Behaviorism 16:99-107.   (Google)
Fetzer, James H. (1989). Language and mentality: Computational, representational, and dispositional conceptions. Behaviorism 17:21-39.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Fiengo, Robert & May, Robert (2006). De Lingua Belief. Cambridge MA: Bradford Book/MIT Press.   (Google)
Abstract: It is beliefs of this sort--de linguabeliefs--that Robert Fiengo and Robert May explore in this book.
Fodor, Jerry A. (2003). Review of Bermudez's Thinking Without Words. The Guardian.   (Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1975). The Language of Thought. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 1815 | Annotation | Google)
Frankish, Keith (2004). Mind and Supermind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Mind and Supermind offers a new perspective on the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. Keith Frankish argues that the folk-psychological term 'belief' refers to two distinct types of mental state, which have different properties and support different kinds of mental explanation. Building on this claim, he develops a picture of the human mind as a two-level structure, consisting of a basic mind and a supermind, and shows how the resulting account sheds light on a number of puzzling phenomena and helps to vindicate folk psychology. Topics discussed include the function of conscious thought, the cognitive role of natural language, the relation between partial and flat-out belief, the possibility of active belief formation, and the nature of akrasia, self-deception, and first-person authority. This book will be valuable for philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists
Frankish, Keith (1998). Natural language and virtual belief. In Peter Carruthers & Jill Boucher (eds.), Language and Thought: Interdisciplinary Themes. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This chapter outlines a new argument for the view that language has a cognitive role. I suggest that humans exhibit two distinct kinds of belief state, one passively formed, the other actively formed. I argue that actively formed beliefs (_virtual beliefs_, as I call them) can be identified with _premising policies_, and that forming them typically involves certain linguistic operations. I conclude that natural language has at least a limited cognitive role in the formation and manipulation of virtual beliefs
Gauker, Christopher (online). Language and thought. A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: If one asks about the relation between thought and language, people expect the issue to concern such matters as whether we think in language, whether creatures without language can "think", and the way language shapes our concepts. In my opinion, there is a much deeper question, which concerns the nature of linguistic communication. Philosophers and linguists standardly conceive of language as basically a means by which speakers convey the content of their thoughts to others. The question is whether that is a correct picture of linguistic communication. This is a question about the relation between thought and language because this standard picture of communication gives propositional thought a certain priority over language. If, as I intend to show, there are reasons to doubt the standard picture, then we cannot expect to make much progress with the more superficial questions without thinking about the nature of linguistic communication
Gauker, Christopher (2002). No conceptual thought without language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (6):687-687.   (Google)
Abstract: Carruthers labels as “too strong” the thesis that language is necessary for all conceptual thought. Languageless creatures certainly do think, but when we get clear about what is meant by “conceptual thought,” it appears doubtful that conceptual thought is possible without language
Gauker, Christopher (2007). On the alleged priority of thought over language. In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), John Searle's Philosophy of Language: Force, Meaning, and Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Google)
Gauker, Christopher (1992). The Lockean theory of communication. Noûs 26 (3):303-324.   (Google | More links)
Gauker, Christopher (1995). Thinking Out Loud: An Essay on the Relation Between Thought and Language. Princeton University Press.   (Cited by 30 | Google)
Gellatly, Angus (1995). Colourful Whorfian ideas: Linguistic and cultural influences on the perception and cognition of colour, and on the investigation of them. Mind and Language 10 (3):199-225.   (Google)
Gleitman, Lila & Papafragou, Anna (2005). Language and thought. In K. Holyoak & B. Morrison (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Glock, Hans-Johann (2006). Thought, language, and animals. In Michael Kober (ed.), Deepening Our Understanding of Wittgenstein (Grazer Philosophische Studien, Volume 71, 2006). Rodopi.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper discusses Wittgenstein's ideas about the relation between thought, neurophysiology and language, and about the mental capacities of non-linguistic animals. It deals with his initial espousal and later rejection of a 'language of thought', his arguments against the idea that thought requires a medium of images or words, his reasons for resisting the encephalocentric conception of the mind which dominates contemporary philosophy of mind, his mature views about the connection between thought and language, and his remarks about animals. The aim is not just to get a clear picture of Wittgenstein's position, but also to contrast it with contemporary approaches such as those of Fodor and Searle. While rejecting some of Wittgenstein's claims about the role of the brain, I defend his basic idea, namely that the capacity for entertaining a thought is conceptually tied to the capacity for displaying that thought in behaviour, rather than to the possession of language as such or to the occurrence of specific neurophysiological phenomena
Green, Karen (2001). Davidson's derangement: Of the conceptual priority of language. Dialectica 55 (3):239-258.   (Google | More links)
Green, Mitchell (web). How do speech acts express psychological states? In S L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), John Searle’S Philosophy of Language: Force, Meaning and Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: forthcoming in S. L. Tsohatzidis (ed.) John Searle’s Philosophy of Language: Force, Meaning and Mind (Cambridge)
Gross, Steven A. (2006). Can one sincerely say what one doesn't believe? Mind and Language 21 (1):11-20.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In _Insensitive Semantics_, Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore (C&L) defend Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism. Semantic Minimalism concerns the effect of utterance context on _semantic_ content. It holds, in contrast to the views of a wide variety of linguists and philosophers of language, that this effect is limited to fixing the semantic value of the small number of expressions they argue are genuinely context- sensitive: uncontroversial indexicals, demonstratives, tense markers, and perhaps a few others. What’s more, according to C&L, once this context-sensitivity has been accounted for, a (disambiguated) sentence expresses a truth-evaluable proposition. Speech Act Pluralism concerns _speech act_ content: what a speaker says (asserts, claims, etc.) by a particular utterance of a sentence. Among its central claims are: first, that speech act content typically includes an indefinite range of propositions, as evidenced by the indefinite range of accurate indirect speech reports concerning a particular utterance (call this Basic Pluralism); and, second, that speakers do not have privileged access to what they say, nor must they believe what they sincerely say (call this the Controversial Aspect).1
Gross, Steven A. (2005). Linguistic understanding and belief. Mind 114 (453):61-66.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Comment on Dean Pettit, who replies in same issue
Harnad, Stevan (1982). Metaphor and mental duality. In Language, Mind, And Brain. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Abstract: I am going to attempt to argue, given certain premises, there are reasons, not only empirical, but also logical, for expecting a certain division of labor in the processing of information by the human brain. This division of labor consists specifically of a functional bifurcation into what may be called, to a first approximation, "verbal" and "nonverbal" modes of information- processing. That this dichotomy is not quite satisfactory, however, will be one of the principal conclusions of this chapter, for I shall attempt to show that metaphor, which in its most common guise is a literary, and hence a fortiori a "verbal" phenomenon, may in fact be more a function of the "nonverbal" than the "verbal" mode. (For alternative attempts to account for cognitive lateralization, see e.g. Bever, 1975; Wickelgren, 1975; Pendse, 1978.)
Hardy-Vallée, Benoit & Poirier, Pierre (2005). Structured thoughts: The spatial-motor view. In E. Machery, M. Werning & G. Schurz (eds.), The Compositionality of Meaning and Content Volume II: Applications to Linguistics, Psychology and Neuroscience. Ontos Verlag.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Is thinking necessarily linguistic? Do we _think with words_, to use Bermudez’s (2003) phrase? Or does thinking occur in some other, yet to be determined, representational format? Or again do we think in various formats, switching from one to the other as tasks demand? In virtue perhaps of the ambiguous na- ture of first-person introspective data on the matter, philosophers have tradition- ally disagreed on this question, some thinking that thought had to be pictorial, other insisting that it could not be but linguistic. When any problem divides a community of otherwise intelligent rational thinkers, one suspects some deep conceptual confusion is at play. Indeed, we believe that the conceptual cate- gories used to frame these and related questions are so hopelessly muddled that one could honestly answer “both simultaneously”, or “neither”, depending one what is meant by the alternatives. But let’s get our priorities straight. This paper first and foremost aims at defending what we believe to be a step in that direc- tion of the proper view of thinking, a view we call the spatial-motor view. In order to do so, however, we have found it essential to start by addressing the conceptual confusion just alluded to. Accordingly, the paper proceeds in two steps. First a conceptual step, in which we reconsider some of the traditional categories brought into play when thinking about thinking. Then an empirical step, in which we offer empirical evidence for one of the views conceptually isolated during the first part of the work. Future version of this collaborative work will include a speculative step in which we spin out an evolutionary and developmental scenario whose function it is justify the spatial-motor view by showing how it fits into current evolutionary and developmental theories
Heil, John (1988). Talk and thought. Philosophical Papers 17 (November):153-170.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
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Hinzen, Wolfram & Uriagereka, Juan (2006). On the metaphysics of linguistics. Erkenntnis 65 (1):71-96.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Mind–body dualism has rarely been an issue in the generative study of mind; Chomsky himself has long claimed it to be incoherent and unformulable. We first present and defend this negative argument but then suggest that the generative enterprise may license a rather novel and internalist view of the mind and its place in nature, different from all of, (i) the commonly assumed functionalist metaphysics of generative linguistics, (ii) physicalism, and (iii) Chomsky’s negative stance. Our argument departs from the empirical observation that the linguistic mind gives rise to hierarchies of semantic complexity that we argue (only) follow from constraints of an essentially mathematical kind. We assume that the faculty of language tightly correlates with the mathematical capacity both formally and in evolution, the latter plausibly arising as an abstraction from the former, as a kind of specialized output. On this basis, and since the semantic hierarchies in question are mirrored in the syntactic complexity of the expression involved, we posit the existence of a higher-dimensional syntax structured on the model of the hierarchy of numbers, in order to explain the semantic facts in question. If so, syntax does not have a physicalist interpretation any more than the hierarchy of number-theoretic spaces does
Hirst, Paul H. (1966). Language and thought. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain 1 (1):63-75.   (Google | More links)
Jackman, Henry (2003). Expression, thought, and language. Philosophia 31 (1-2):33-54.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper discusses an "expressive constraint" on accounts of thought and language which requires that when a speaker expresses a belief by sincerely uttering a sentence, the utterance and the belief have the same content. It will be argued that this constraint should be viewed as expressing a conceptual connection between thought and language rather than a mere empirical generalization about the two. However, the most obvious accounts of the relation between thought and language compatible with the constraint (giving an independent account of one of either linguistic meaning or thought content and understanding the other in terms of it) both face serious difficulties. Because of this, the following will suggest an alternative picture of the relation between thought and language that remains compatible with the constraint
Jackendoff, Ray S. (1996). How language helps us think. Pragmatics and Cognition 4 (1):1-34.   (Google)
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Abstract: This book emphasizes the role of semantics as a bridge between the theory of language and the theories of other cognitive capacities such as visual perception...
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Abstract: Semantic Structures is a large-scale study of conceptual structure and its lexical and syntactic expression in English that builds on the theory of Conceptual...
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Klima, Gyula (ms). Semantic complexity and syntactic simplicity in ockham's mental language.   (Google)
Abstract: In these comments I am going to argue that Yiwei Zheng's paper, by postulating an imaginary mental language in a proposed new interpretation of Ockham's conception of mental language, provides us with an imaginary solution to what turns out to be an imaginary problem. Having said this, however, I hasten to add that the paper has undeniable merits in pointing us in the right direction for revealing the imaginary character of the problem
Landesman, Charles (1961). Does language embody a philosophical point of view? Review of Metaphysics 14 (June):617-636.   (Google)
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Abstract: I offer a synoptic account of some chief parameters of language and its relationship to communication and to thought, distinguishing in the process between semantical and pragmatic dimensions of utterance.
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Lurz, Robert W. (2007). In defense of wordless thoughts about thoughts. Mind and Language 22 (3):270–296.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Bermúdez (2003) argues that (T1) nonlinguistic creatures can think thoughts about protocausal conditional states of affairs and engage in rudimentary forms of reasoning, but (T2) they cannot ‘in principle’ think thoughts about thoughts (propositions)—in particular, they cannot have higher-order propositional attitudes (PAs). I reconstruct Bermúdez’s argument for T2 and show that it rests upon an implausible empirical assumption and is, therefore, not a threat to current empirical research into nonlinguistic higher-order PAs. I argue that even on an interpretation of the argument that would pose a threat to this research, a parallel argument would seem to disprove T1. Finally, I argue that on an interpretation of Bermúdez’s argument that would not pose a threat to the above empirical research but would still present a significant philosophical thesis about thought and language, the argument either appears to confuse thoughts with their representational vehicles or the representational vehicles of thoughts with those representations used to hold thoughts in mind
Machery, Edouard; Mallon, Ron; Nichols, Shaun & Stich, Stephen P. (2004). Semantics, cross-cultural style. Cognition 92 (3).   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Theories of reference have been central to analytic philosophy, and two views, the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference, have dominated the field. In this research tradition, theories of reference are assessed by consulting one’s intuitions about the reference of terms in hypothetical situations. However, recent work in cultural psychology (e.g., Nisbett et al. 2001) has shown systematic cognitive differences between East Asians and Westerners, and some work indicates that this extends to intuitions about philosophical cases (Weinberg et al. 2001). In light of these findings on cultural differences, two experiments were conducted which explored intuitions about reference in Westerners and East Asians. Both experiments indicate that, for certain central cases, Westerners are more likely than East Asians to report intuitions that are consistent with the causal-historical view. These results constitute prima facie evidence that semantic intuitions vary from culture to culture, and the paper argues that this fact raises questions about the nature of the philosophical enterprise of developing a theory of reference
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Marras, Ausonio (1973). Sellars on thought and language. Noûs 7 (May):152-163.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2005). Language: A Biological Model. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Ruth Millikan is well known for having developed a strikingly original way for philosophers to seek understanding of mind and language, which she sees as biological phenomena. She now draws together a series of groundbreaking essays which set out her approach to language. Guiding the work of most linguists and philosophers of language today is the assumption that language is governed by prescriptive normative rules. Millikan offers a fundamentally different way of viewing the partial regularities that language displays, comparing them to biological norms that emerge from natural selection. This yields novel and quite radical consequences for our understanding of the nature of public linguistic meaning, the process of language understanding, how children learn language, and the semantics/pragmatics distinction
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Moravcsik, J. M. (1981). Frege and Chomsky on thought and language. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 6:105-123.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
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Owens, David J. (2003). Knowing your own mind. Dialogue 42 (4):791-798.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What is it to “know your own mind”? In ordinary English, this phrase connotes clear headed decisiveness and a firm resolve but in the language of contemporary philosophy, the indecisive and the susceptible can know their own minds just as well as anybody else. In the philosopher’s usage, “knowing your own mind” is just a matter of being able to produce a knowledgeable description of your mental state, whether it be a state of indecision, susceptibility or even confusion. What exercises philosophers is the fact that people seem to produce these descriptions of their own mental lives without any pretence of considering evidence or reasons of any kind and yet these descriptions are treated by the rest of us as authoritative, at least in a wide range of cases. How can this be?
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Peregrin, Jaroslav (ms). Holistické pojetí jazyka.   (Google)
Abstract: Zdá se, že není nic přirozenějšího, než se spolu s Russellem domnívat, že „máme-li smysluplně hovořit a ne pouze vydávat zvuky, musíme slovům, která užíváme, dávat nějaký význam; a významem, který svým slovům dáváme, musí být něco, s čím jsme přišli do styku“. Naše slova přece musí, aby byla skutečně smysluplná, něco představovat! Od toho se odvíjí běžná poučka, která nám říká, že slova jazyka jsou symboly, to jest (podle Encyklopedie Britannica), „prvky komunikace, které mají představovat osobu, předmět, skupinu, proces nebo ideu“. Problém je ovšem v tom, že není zdaleka zřejmé, co to vůbec znamená něco představovat; a co to tedy znamená být symbolem. V běžném jazyce hovoříme o představování například tehdy, když říkáme, že herec na jevišti divadla představuje dánského prince Hamleta, nebo že krabička sirek, kterou použijeme namísto ztracené šachové figurky, představuje černou věž. Jak vůbec může dojít k tomu, aby něco (nebo někdo) představovalo něco (nebo někoho) jiného? Jednou ze možností jistě je, že to někdo vyhlásí a jiní to přijmou. V programu divadla se například napíše, že se hraje Hamlet, diváci si to přečtou a vědí, že člověk, který pobíhá po jevišti s lebkou, představuje onoho dánského prince. Člověk, který zjistí, že mu chybí šachová figurka, vezme krabičku sirek a prohlásí „Tato krabička bude představovat černou věž“. To je čirá konvence: lidé se o tom, že něco bude představovat něco jiného, jednoduše dohodnou. K takové dohodě sice není potřeba, aby s ní ti, kdo ji přijímají, nahlas vyslovovali souhlas; je k ní nicméně potřeba, aby ji někdo vyhlásil a někdo jiný jeho vyhlášení porozuměl a přijal ho. Z toho ovšem plyne, že o takto konvenční druh představování se jazyk opírat nemůže; alespoň ne obecně. Brání tomu fakt, že k ustanovení takové konvence už jazyk potřebujeme – potřebujeme tedy již nějaká slova, která něco 'představují', mít. Když již nějaký jazyk máme, není problém zavést konvencí další jazyk – jak je to ale s tím prvním jazykem? (Nebylo by možné, abychom konvenci ustanovili za pomoci nějakých pouze 'předjazykových' komunikačních prostředků? Nemůžeme konvenci, na jejímž základě nějaký typ zvuku představuje velryby, ustanovit třebs pomocí pouhého ukazování na velryby? Problém je zřejmě v tom, že rámec, který by byl potřeba k tomu, aby mohlo být to či ono gesto interpretováno jako ukázání, které ustanovuje, co bude daný zvuk představovat, by musel sestávat z tak komplexních komunikčaních praktik, že je opět stěží představitelný jinak než v podobě jazyka.) Samozřejmě, že konvence není tou jedinou cestou, jak může dojít k tomu, že něco představuje něco jiného..
Pillsbury, Walter B. (1915). The mental antecedents of speech. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 12 (5):116-127.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Hardy-Vallee, B. & Poirier, Pierre (2006). Embodied thoughts. Concepts and compositionality without language. Theoria Et Historia Scientarum 1:53-72.   (Google)
Abstract: Is thinking necessarily linguistic? Do we _think with words_, to use Bermudez’s (2003) phrase? Or does thinking occur in some other, yet to be determined, representational format? Or again do we think in various formats, switching from one to the other as tasks demand? In virtue perhaps of the ambiguous nature of first-person introspective data on the matter, philosophers have traditionally disagreed on this question, some thinking that thought had to be pictorial, other insisting that it could not be but linguistic. When any problem divides a community of otherwise intelligent rational thinkers, one suspects some deep conceptual confusion is at play. Indeed, we believe that the conceptual categories used to frame these and related questions are so hopelessly muddled that one could honestly answer “both simultaneously”, or “neither”, depending one what is meant by the alternatives. But let’s get our priorities straight. This paper first and foremost aims at defending what we believe to be a step in that direction of the proper view of thinking, a view we call the spatial-motor view. In order to do so, however, we have found it essential to start by address the conceptual confusion just alluded to. Accordingly, the paper proceeds in two steps. First a conceptual step, in which we reconsider some of the traditional categories brought into play when thinking about thinking. Then an empirical step, in which we offer empirical evidence for one of the views conceptually isolated during the first part of the work. Future version of this collaborative work will include a speculative step in which we spin out an evolutionary and developmental scenario whose function it is justify the spatial-motor view by showing how it fits into current evolutionary and developmental theories
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Reber, Arthur S. (1987). The rise and (surprisingly rapid) fall of psycholinguistics. Synthese 72 (September):325-339.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Psycholinguistics re-emerged in an almost explosive fashion during the 1950s and 1960s. It then underwent an equally abrupt decline as an independent sub-discipline. This paper charts this fall and identifies five general factors which, it is argued, were responsible for its demise. These are: (a) an uncompromisingly strong version of nativism; (b) a growing isolation of psycholinguistics from the body psychology; (c) a preference for formal theory over empirical data; (d) several abrupt modifications in the Standard Theory in linguistics; and (e) a failure to appreciate the strong commitment to functionalism that characterizes experimental psychology. In short, what looked like a revolution two decades ago turned out to be merely a local reformation that occurred along side of and largely independent from the real revolution in the cognitive sciences
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Abstract: Carruthers argues that natural language is the medium of non-domain-specific thought in humans. The general idea is that a certain type of thinking is conducted in natural language. It’ not exactly clear, however, what type of thinking this is. I suggest two different ways of interpreting Carruthers’ thesis on this point and argue that neither of them squares well with central-process modularism
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Rupert, Robert D. (forthcoming). Representation in extended cognitive systems: Does the scaffolding of language extend the mind? In Richard Menary (ed.), The Extended Mind. MIT Press.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Abstract: forthcoming in R. Menary (ed.), The Extended Mind
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Slezak, Peter (online). Linguistic explanation and "psychological reality".   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Methodological questions concerning Chomsky’s generative approach to linguistics have been debated without consensus. The status of linguistics as psychology, the psychological reality of grammars, the character of tacit knowledge and the role of intuitions as data remain heatedly disputed today. I argue that the recalcitrance of these disputes is symptomatic of deep misunderstandings. I focus attention on Michael Devitt’s recent extended critique of Chomskyan linguistics and I suggest that his complaints are based on a failure to appreciate the special status of Chomsky’s computational formalisms found elsewhere in cognitive science. Devitt ascribes an intentional conception of representations that Chomsky repudiates and that is independently implausible. I argue that Devitt’s proposed “linguistic reality” as the proper subject matter of linguistics neglects the problems of tokens as opposed to types and he misses the force of Chomsky’s arguments against Behaviourism and nominalism. I suggest that Devitt’s case against intuitions as data misunderstands their standard role throughout perceptual psychology. Finally, of more general interest, I argue that Devitt’s position exemplifies compelling errors concerning mental representation seen throughout cognitive science and philosophy of mind
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Abstract: I do not think that the world or the sciences would ever have suggested to me any philosophical problems. What has suggested philosophical problems to me is things which other philosophers have said about the world or the sciences. (G.E. Moore, 1942, p. 14)
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Speaks, Jeff (2006). Is mental content prior to linguistic meaning?: Stalnaker on intentionality. Noûs 40 (3):428-467.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Since the 1960's, work in the analytic tradition on the nature of mental and linguistic content has converged on the views that social facts about public language meaning are derived from facts about the thoughts of individuals, and that these thoughts are constituted by properties of the internal states of agents. I give a two-part argument against this picture of intentionality: first, that if mental content is prior to public language meaning, then a view of mental content much like the causal-pragmatic theory presented by Robert Stalnaker in Inquiry must be correct; second, that the causal-pragmatic theory is false. I conclude with some positive suggestions regarding alternative solutions to the `problem of intentionality.'
Sperber, Dan & Wilson, Deirdre (1998). The mapping between the mental and the public lexicon. In Peter Carruthers & Jill Boucher (eds.), [Book Chapter]. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 97 | Google | More links)
Abstract: We argue that the presence of a word in an utterance serves as starting point for a relevance guided inferential process that results in the construction of a contextually appropriate sense. The linguistically encoded sense of a word does not serve as its default interpretation. The cases where the contextually appropriate sense happens to be identical to this linguistic sense have no particular theoretical significance. We explore some of the consequences of this view. One of these consequences is that there may be many more mentally represented concepts than there are linguistically encoded concepts
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Abstract: A major recurrent feature of the intellectual landscape in cognitive science is the appearance of a collection of essays by Noam Chomsky. These collections serve both to inform the wider cognitive science community about the latest developments in the approach to the study of language that Chomsky has advocated for almost fifty years now,1 and to provide trenchant criticisms of what he takes to be mistaken philosophical objections to this approach. This new collection contains seven essays, the earliest of which were first published about ten years ago. So the linguistic work that is summarised is within the principles and parameters approach and some of the essays (particularly the first and last) provide an outline of the main ideas of the emerging minimalist programme.2 But this is not primarily a book about the details of recent linguistic theory. Rather, in these essays Chomsky offers a wealth of critical commentary on some of the most influential arguments in the philosophy of mind and language that have appeared over the past two decades or so. Indeed, Chomsky discusses a vast range of philosophical topics and reaches some radical conclusions – that many influential philosophical discussions on language and mind are utterly misconceived and that, for example, the traditional mind-body problem cannot even be coherently stated
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Abstract: This paper advances a novel argument that speech perception is a complex system best understood nonindividualistically and therefore that individualism fails as a general philosophical program for understanding cognition. The argument proceeds in four steps. First, I describe a "replaceability strategy", commonly deployed by individualists, in which one imagines replacing an object with an appropriate surrogate. This strategy conveys the appearance that relata can be substituted without changing the laws that hold within the domain. Second, I advance a "counterfactual test" as an alternative to the replaceability strategy. Third, I show how the typical objects of cross-modal processes (in this case, auditory-visual speech perception), more clearly irreplaceable than the objects of the unimodal process examined by Burge [(1986) Individualism and psychology, The Philosophical Review, XCV, 3-45], supply a firm basis for a nonindividualist interpretation of such cases. Finally, I demonstrate that the routine violation of the individualist's Replaceability Condition occurs even in unimodal cases - so the violation of the replaceability constraint does not derive simply from the diversity of modal sources but rather from the causal complexity of psychological processes generally. The conclusion is that philosophical progress on this issue must await progress in psychology, or, at least, philosophical progress in accounting for psychological complexity--precisely the vicissitude predicted by a thoroughgoing naturalism
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