Language Use

Michael Devitt

in Ignorance of Language

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199250967
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603945 | DOI:
Language Use

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This chapter argues that language use does not provide persuasive evidence for the Representational Thesis (RT) view of linguistic competence, and that RT is implausible. RT is not supported by the apparently popular “only-theory-in-town” abduction, nor it is supported by the psychology of skills in general, an appropriate place to look because linguistic competence appears to be procedural (implicit) knowledge acquired by implicit learning. The chapter also argues for some tentative proposals: that language processing is not governed by the unrepresented structure rules of the language; that language processing does not involve metalinguistic representations of the syntactic and semantic properties of linguistic expressions, but rather is a fairly brute-causal associationist process; and that if the Language-of-Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) is false, then the rules of a language are not, in a robust way, psychologically real in a speaker.

Keywords: language use; language processing; Representational Thesis; RT; linguistic competence; only-theory-in-town; procedural knowledge; implicit learning; brute-causal associationist process; Language-of-Thought Hypothesis

Chapter.  25575 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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