Language and Thought: Annotated Bibliography 


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Avramides, Anita (1989), Meaning and Mind, MIT Press.

This is a critical discussion of Grice, but the take-home lessons are somewhat nebulous.

Bach, Kent (1987), Thought and Reference, Oxford University Press.

This is a good example of the expressive theory at work in solving special problems in semantics.

Bach, Kent (1992a), "Intentions and Demonstratives", Analysis 52, 140-146.

This is a reply to Reimer 1991a.

Bach, Kent (1992b), "Paving the Road to Reference", Philosophical Studies 67, 295-300.

This is a reply to Reimer 1991b. Bach draws a useful distinction between the proposition that a speaker intends to communicate by means of his or her utterance and the propositions that the speaker intends the hearer to believe.

Beaney, Michael (1997), The Frege Reader, Blackwell.

The best collection of Frege's major essays in English translation.

Bennett, Jonathan (1976), Linguistic Behavior, Cambridge University Press.

A Grice-inspired attempt to explain how language is grounded in people's intentions.

Bezuidenhout, Anne, (1997), "The Communication of De Re Thoughts", Noûs, 31: 197-225.

While Bezuidenhout gives every indication that she is basically an expressivist, she wishes to deny that the content that the speaker expresses must match the content that the hearer grasps.

Biro, John (1979), "Intentionalism in the Theory of Meaning", The Monist 62: 238-57.

A difficult but important critique of Grice. The main idea I get out of it is that the evidential basis for a hearer's attribution of Gricean intentions to a speaker is already a sufficient basis for an interpretation of the speaker's words apart from the ascription of intentions.

Block, Ned (1986), "Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology", in Peter A. French, Theodore E. Uehling, Jr., and Howard K. Wettstein, eds., Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 10, Studies in the Philosophy of Mind, University of Minnesota, pp. 615-78.

This essay is a good illustration of a functionalist conception of mental content.

Burge, Tyler (1979), "Individualism and the Mental" in Peter A. French, Theodore E. Uehling, Jr., and Howard K. Wettstein, eds., Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. 4, Studies in Metaphysics. University of Minnesota Press, pp. 73-121.

This is one of the most important philosophical essays in recent decades. It is the original source for what is now called social externalism.

Carruthers, Peter (1996), Language, Thought and Consciousness, Cambridge University Press.

This book attempts to argue that we think in public language, but strangely it has nothing to say about the nature of linguistic communication.

Clark, Andy (1998), "Magic Words: How Language Augments Human Computation", in Peter Carruthers and Jill Boucher, eds., Language and Thought: Interdisciplinary Themes, Cambridge University Press, pp. 162-183.

Clark argues that in major ways language transforms thought, but, like Dennett (see below) he does not see past the expressive theory of communication.

Cole, David (forthcoming), "I Don't Think So: Pinker on the Thinker", Philosophical Psychology.

This is an incisive critique of Pinker's (1994) arguments for the language of thought hypothesis.

Cummins, Robert (1989), Meaning and Mental Representation, MIT Press.

This is a good example of the idea that mental representations represent the world by virtue of some kind of isomorphism to the world.

Cummins, Robert (1996), Representations, Targets, and Attitudes, MIT Press.

This is Cummins' update on his 1989. He still does not see that unless restrictions are placed on the structures mapped into there will always be far too many structure preserving mappings.

Davidson, Donald (1975), "Thought and Talk", in Samuel Guttenplan, ed., Mind and Language, Oxford University Press, pp. 7-23. (Reprinted in Davidson 1984a.)

Davidson argues that animals cannot have beliefs.

Davidson, Donald (1984a), Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, Oxford University Press.

This is a collection of Davidson's most important writings on language.

Davidson, Donald, 1984b, " Communication and convention", in Davidson 1984a, pp. 265-280.

This paper criticizes David Lewis and claims that it is not necessary for languages to be shared.

Davidson, Donald (1986), "A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs", in Ernest Lepore, ed., Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson, Basil Blackwell, pp. 433-446.

In this paper Davidson takes up the question of how we interpret speakers when they use words in a nonconventional way. It is one place where Davidson seems to deny that there is such a thing as conventional meaning, and it is one place where his later allegiance to Gricean ideas emerges.

Davidson, Donald (1990), "The Structure and Content of Truth", The Journal of Philosophy 87: 279-328.

This paper touches on many of Davidson's themes. His late-blooming Griceanism emerges briefly but very strikingly.

Davis, Steven (1991), Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press.

An excellent collection of important essays in pragmatics.

Dennett, Daniel (1991), Consciousness Explained, Little, Brown and Co.

Chapter 8 contains a nice critique of the idea of a "Central Meaner". Dennett claims that the act of deciding what to say shapes the content of the thought to be expressed; however, he does not escape from the expressive paradigm.

Fodor, Jerry A. (1975), The Language of Thought, Harvard University Press.

This is the original source for the contemporary language of thought hypothesis, which says that an innate language of thought is the medium of cognition. A version of the expressive theory of communication is developed on pp. 103-122.

Fodor, Jerry A. (1987), Psychosemantics, MIT Press.

Chapter 4 contains Fodor's atomistic analysis of the reference relation for mental words.

Frege (1892), "On Sense and Reference". Reprinted in Harnish 1994, as "On Sinn and Bedeutung", in Beaney 1997, and in Martinich 1996 (and all earlier editions) as "On Sense and Nominatum".

This the original source for contemporary conceptions of content.

Frege (1918), "The Thought". Reprinted in Beaney 1997 and Harnish 1994.

Frege's commitment to expressivism is fairly explicit here.

Gauker, Christopher (forthcoming), "Social Externalism and Linguistic Communication," in a book edited by Juan José Acero and María-José Frápolli, to be published by CSLI Publications.

If there were such a thing as content in the expressivist's sense, then social externalism would be true of it. But in that case, the expressivist's explanation of the use of words is circular.

Gauker, Christopher (1991), "Mental Content and the Division of Epistemic Labor", Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69: 302-318.

Defends Burge's social externalism by appeal to the premise that where there is a division epistemic labor it must be permissible for nonexperts to use a technical vocabulary that they are not masters of. The same argument is presented in chapter 3 of Gauker 1994. There and in Gauker forthcoming the conclusion is used as an argument against expressivism.

Gauker, Christopher (1994), Thinking Out Loud: An Essay on the Relation between Thought and Language, Princeton University Press.

The first half contains in-depth treatments of many of the issues raised in this article. The second half develops in some detail an alternative to the expressive theory (here called the Lockean theory of communication), including both a theory of the mental mechanisms underlying language and a theory of the norms of discourse. [MORE]

Gauker, Christopher (1997), "Domain of Discourse", Mind 106, 1-32.

Argues that an expressivist cannot give an adequate account of the determinants of the content of the domain of discourse relative to which quantified expressions are to be evaluated.

Gauker, Christopher (1998), "What is a Context of Utterance?", Philosophical Studies 91: 149-172.

Disputes Stalnaker's conception of context as supposedly shared assumptions and argues for that contexts are better conceived as sets of objectively relevant propositions.

Grice, Paul H. P. (1989), Studies in the Way of Words, Harvard University Press.

Contains all of Grice's major writings, which are the primary source for contemporary expressivism. For a summary of Grice's views, see my article on Grice in the Washington University Dictionary of the Philosophy of Mind.

Harnish, Robert M. (1994), Basic Topics in the Philosophy of Language, Prentice-Hall.

For beginners the best collection of seminal articles in the philosophy of language.

Heck, Richard G. Jr. (1995), "The Sense of Communication" Mind 104: 79-106.

Shows that there is a difficulty in explicating the content of the propositions expressed. In particular, we cannot say that singular sentences express singular propositions if we suppose that through successful communication knowledge is conveyed.

Heil, John (1992), The Nature of True Minds, Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 6 is a good critical discussion of Davidson 1975.

Jackendoff, Ray (1994), Patterns in the Mind: Language and Human Nature, Basic Books.

Contains a really simplistic version of the expressive theory.

Kaplan, David (1989), "Demonstratives", in Joseph Almog, John Perry, and Howard Wettstein, eds., Themes from Kaplan, Oxford University Press, pp. 481-563.

This is for many the paradigm of how to introduce context relativity into formal semantics.

Levinson, Stephen C. (1997), "From Outer Space to Inner Space: Linguistic Categories and Non-linguistic Thinking", in Jan Nuyts and Eric Pederson, Language and Conceptualization, Cambridge University Press, pp. 13-45.

In the first half Levinson argues that semantic representations cannot be conceptual representations. What he means by this, I think, is that the thoughts expressed in words have to be representationally complete in a way the words that express them need not be.

Lewis, David (1969), Convention, Harvard University Press.

Lewis defines conventions as solutions to coordination problems and defines languages as abstract, formal systems. He then explains how signalling systems might be conventions in his sense. The implication (which he nowhere explicitly states) is that languages (which are not merely signalling systems) are chosen as a solution to coordination problems.

Lewis, David (1975), "Language and Languages", in Keith Gunderson, ed., Language, Mind and Knowledge, University of Minnesota Press, pp. 3-35. Reprinted in Martinich 1996.

An improved restatement of some of the main ideas in Lewis (1969). The main idea is that languages are abstract entities conventionally selected by populations.

Loar, Brian (1981), Mind and Meaning, Cambridge University Press.

Holds that the nature of intentional states such as belief and desire can be understood in terms of a comprehensive psychological theory. I think it is fair to say that for Loar, to be a thinking thing is to be a model of the psychological theory; but Loar does not explain himself in this way because he wants to use the psychological theory to produce explicit definitions of intentional state types.

Markman, Ellen (1989), Categorization and Naming in Children: Problems of Induction, MIT Press.

Explains the research that supports Markman's mutual exclusivity assumption, which says that when children are learning the meaning of a new word, their starting point will be the assumption that its meaning is mutually exclusive with the meanings of words already learned. I cite it as example of an attempt to identify what I called abstraction heuristics.

Martinich, A. P. (1996), The Philosophy of Language, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press.

Another important collection of seminal writings in the philosophy of language. For teaching purposes I think the Harnish collection is better since it makes more connections with issues in the philosophy of mind.

Millikan, Ruth (1986), "Thoughts without Laws", Philosophical Review 95: 47-80. Reprinted in Millikan 1993.

This and "Biosemantics" provide the best short introduction to Millikan's teleosemantical conception of mental representation.

Millikan, Ruth (1989), "Biosemantics", Journal of Philosophy 86: 281-297. Reprinted in Millikan 1993.

Millikan, Ruth (1993), White Queen Psychology and Other Essays for Alice, MIT Press.

Nolan, Rita (1994), Cognitive Practices: Human Language and Human Knowledge, Blackwell.

One of the few books explicitly critical of the conception of communication I have been calling expressivism. Nolan's focus is on language acquisition. She objects to what she calls the "code theory" on the grounds that language first makes possible the kind of cognition of categories that the code theory treats language as resting on.

Paul, Matthias (unpublished ms.) University of Münster, "Communication, Content and the Coordination of Actions".

Like Heck, notices that there is a problem in thinking that singular sentences convey only singular propositions. Proposes that what more ought to be required is, roughly, that the proposition be conveyed in a manner that facilitates coordination of action.

Perry, John (1993), "Thought without Representation", in his The Problem of the Essential Indexical and Other Essays, Oxford University Press, pp. 205-225. Originally published in 1986.

I cited this as an example of expressivism without the assumption that the underlying mental representations are representationally complete.

Pinker, Stephen (1994), The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: W. Morrow and Co.

Includes a compendium of very poor arguments for the language of thought theory and more generally expressivism. Persuasively criticized by Cole, forthcoming.

Quine, W. V. (1975), "Mind and verbal dispositions", in Samuel D. Guttenplan, Mind and Language, Oxford University Press, pp. 83-95.

This the best source for Quine's nonexpressivist conception of the relation between thought and language.

Reimer, Marga (1991a), "Do Demonstratives have Semantic Significance?" Analysis 51: 177-183.

Argues that the reference of a demonstrative should not be defined in terms of speakers' intentions.

Reimer, Marga (1991b), "Demonstrative, Demonstrations and Demonstrata", Philosophical Studies 63: 187-202.

Similar to 1991a.

Rosch, Eleanor, and Carolyn Mervis (1975), "Family Resemblances: Studies in the Internal Structure of Categories", Cognitive Psychology 7: 573-605.

Sets out a number of seminal studies that probably show something, but probably do not show that "categories tend to become organized in such a way that they mirror the correlational structure of the environment..." (575).

Schiffer, Stephen (1972), Meaning, Oxford University Press.

Schiffer's attempt to carry out the Gricean program.

Schiffer, Stephen (1987), Remnants of Meaning, MIT Press.

Schiffer's disavowal of the Gricean program, bound up with doubts about the possibility of compositional semantics tout court.

Sellars, Wilfrid (1997/1956), Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, Harvard University Press.

This Harvard edition was brought out by Richard Rorty and Robert Brandom to make Sellars's classic essay more widely available. EPM is important both in epistemology, for its critique of foundationalism (which Sellars's dubbed "The Myth of the Given") and for the Myth of Jones, in which Sellars introduced the idea that thoughts are theoretical entities posited by what is nowadays called a "folk psychological theory". The conception of thoughts as folk psychological posits has been taken up and used by those who wish to view language as a tool for expressing thought, even though Sellars himself explicity rejected that conception of language. See my article on Sellars for further discussion.

Sellars, Wilfrid (1969), "Language as Thought and as Communication", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 29: 506-527.

This is a statement of Sellars's functionalism and his idea that our conception of occurrent thought is modelled a kind of spontaneous, unpremeditated speech that he called "thinking out loud".

Sperber, Dan and Deirdre Wilson (1995), Relevance: Communication and Cognition, 2nd edition, Blackwell.

While basically adhering to Grice, they propose to substitute a single principle of relevance for the many maxims of his cooperative principle. Propositions are relevant to what a speaker literally says if, given the stimulus of what speakers literally say, hearers can access those propositions in their knowledge structures without a lot of effort.

Stalnaker, Robert (1973), "Presuppositions", Journal of Philosophical Logic 2: 447-457.

This essay, as well as "Pragmatics" and "Pragmatic Presuppositions", listed below, explain Stalnaker's Grice-inspired pragmatic theory of presuppositions, which contrasts with the semantic theory of presupposition. Roughly, Stalnaker holds that presuppositions (for a speaker) are the assumptions that the speaker supposes to be shared by him or her and his or her interlocutors.

Stalnaker, Robert (1976), "Pragmatics", in Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman, eds., Semantics of Natural Language, D. Reidel, pp. 380-397.

Stalnaker, Robert (1984), Inquiry, MIT Press.

I cited this as an example of the position that beliefs and other intentional states are brain states but are not subpersonally localizable.

Stalnaker, Robert, 1991 (1974), "Pragmatic Presuppositions" in Steven Davis (ed.), Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press, pp. 471-481.

Stalnaker, Robert (1998), "On the Representation of Context", Journal of Logic, Language and Information 7: 3-19.

Stalnaker's recent restatement of his theory of context. He now maintains that the context set can represent the context all on its own. Contains another attempt to explain the possibility of informative presuppositions.

Taylor, Kenneth (1995), "Meaning, Reference and Cognitive Significance", Mind and Language 10: 129-180.

Explains why it is difficult to combine Frege's conception of senses as cognitive values with Frege's conception of senses as the contents of beliefs.

Wettstein, Howard (1984), "How to Bridge the Gap between Meaning and Reference",Synthese 58:63-84. (Reprinted in Davis 1991.)

Wettstein accepts the expressive theory of communication but doubts that a speaker's intention determines the reference of demonstrative expressions.

von Savigny, Eike (1988), The Social Foundations of Meaning, Springer-Verlag.

Contains a good critical discussion of Grice.

Varley, Rosemary (1998), "Aphasic language, aphasic thought: An investigation of propositional thinking in a-propositional aphasic", in Peter Carruthers and Jill Boucher, eds., Language and Thought: Interdisciplinary Themes, Cambridge University Press, pp. 128-145.

Citing studies of aphasia, disputes Carruthers's "cognitive conception of language". She is laudably skeptical of the notion that propositional thinking is necessary for intelligence.

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