Chapter

Language Conventions Made Simple<sup>*</sup>

Ruth Garret Millikan

in Language: A Biological Model

Published in print August 2005 | ISBN: 9780199284764
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603167 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199284768.003.0001
 						Language Conventions Made Simple*

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The conventionality of natural language is captured in much simpler terms than David Lewis’s, displaying its continuity with more rudimentary conventions involving neither coordinations, regular conformity (either de facto or de jure) nor rational underpinnings. This “natural conventionality” is composed of two simple characteristics:(1) natural conventions are reproduced patterns, (2) they are proliferated due partly to weight of precedent, rather than due, for example, to their intrinsically superior capacity to perform certain functions. These two characteristics are discussed as they characterize simple non-coordinating conventions, then simple coordination conventions, and finally language conventions. The paper argues that the conception of conventions universally adopted in speech act theory is mistaken, and points to a new way of understand the nature of illocutionary acts.

Keywords: conventions; David Lewis; illocutionary acts; linguistic rules; language conventions; coordination problems; linguistic meaning; speech acts

Chapter.  8624 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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