Adam Smith

In Benjamin Hill Margaret Cameron (ed.), Sourcebook in the History of Philosophy of Language. pp. 853-858 (2017)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Smith proposes an account of how languages developed. He did so not as historian, but as a philosopher with a special concern about how a nominalist could account for general terms. Names for individuals are taken as fairly unproblematic – say ‘Thames’ and ‘Avon’ for each of the respective rivers. But whence the word ‘river,’ applicable to more than one, if all that exist are particular objects? Smith’s view is not the usual one, according to which people deploy a powerful ability to abstract mentally, and subsequently affix a label to a general concept. He resisted this because he granted that such robust mental processes themselves presuppose the use of words. Rather, what holds the class together is the word itself, a “single appellation.”
Categories
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
POWAS-3
Upload history
Archival date: 2020-02-06
View other versions
Added to PP index
2020-02-06

Total views
23 ( #54,594 of 56,044 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
12 ( #45,177 of 56,044 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.