Edward Stein

in Without Good Reason

Published in print December 1997 | ISBN: 9780198237730
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679520 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy


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A language is an abstract system that relates signals to meanings. Linguistics is the study of human languages. As characterized by contemporary linguists working in the paradigm of cognitive science, the central project of linguistics is to develop an account of the linguistic knowledge of humans. This chapter examines the notion of linguistic competence with an eye towards whether an analogous notion of competence can be developed in the realm of reasoning. Along the way, it considers related theses in contemporary linguistic theory and discusses the nature of human reasoning competence, along with linguistic nativism, linguistic universals, and the knowledge view of linguistic competence. The main point that is relevant to the rationality thesis is that more of an argument than just establishing the existence of reasoning competence and the various similarities between linguistics and reasoning is required to show that humans are rational. It is a mistake to assume that rationality is entailed by reasoning competence.

Keywords: language; linguistics; linguistic competence; linguistic universals; knowledge; reasoning; linguistic theory; linguistic nativism; rationality; reasoning competence

Chapter.  17590 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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