Functionalism and tacit knowledge of grammar

Philosophical Perspectives:1-31 (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this article, I argue that if tacit knowledge of grammar is analyzable in functional-computational terms, then it cannot ground linguistic meaning, structure, or sound. If to know or cognize a grammar is to be in a certain computational state playing a certain functional role, there can be no unique grammar cognized. Satisfying the functional conditions for cognizing a grammar G entails satisfying those for cognizing many grammars disagreeing with G about expressions' semantic, phonetic, and syntactic values. This threatens the Chomskyan view that expressions have such values for speakers because they cognize grammars assigning them those values. For if this is true, semantics, syntax, and phonology must be indeterminate, thanks to the indeterminacy of grammar-cognizing (qua functional-computational state). So, the fact that a speaker cognizes a grammar cannot explain the determinate character of their language.

Author's Profile

David Balcarras
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Added to PP

66 (#82,078)

6 months
66 (#42,020)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?