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Josh Armstrong
University of California, Los Angeles
  1. The Problem of Lexical Innovation.Josh Armstrong - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (2):87-118.
    In a series of papers, Donald Davidson :3–17, 1984, The philosophical grounds of rationality, 1986, Midwest Stud Philos 16:1–12, 1991) developed a powerful argument against the claim that linguistic conventions provide any explanatory purchase on an account of linguistic meaning and communication. This argument, as I shall develop it, turns on cases of what I call lexical innovation: cases in which a speaker uses a sentence containing a novel expression-meaning pair, but nevertheless successfully communicates her intended meaning to her audience. (...)
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  2. Coordination, Triangulation, and Language Use.Josh Armstrong - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (1):80-112.
    In this paper, I explore two contrasting conceptions of the social character of language. The first takes language to be grounded in social convention. The second, famously developed by Donald Davidson, takes language to be grounded in a social relation called triangulation. I aim both to clarify and to evaluate these two conceptions of language. First, I propose that Davidson’s triangulation-based story can be understood as the result of relaxing core features of conventionalism pertaining to both common-interest and diachronic stability—specifically, (...)
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    Provincialism in Pragmatics.Josh Armstrong - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):5-40.
    The central claim of my paper is that pragmatics has a wider scope of application than has been generally appreciated. In particular, I will argue that many discussions of pragmatics are guilty of a problematic form of provincialism. The provincialism at issue restricts the class of target systems of study to those involving groups of developmentally typical humans (or slightly idealized versions thereof), either explicitly as a matter of principle or implicitly as consequence of how it construes the underlying pragmatic (...)
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  4. Communication Before Communicative Intention.Josh Armstrong - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper explores the significance of intelligent social behavior among non-human animals for philosophical theories of communication. Using the alarm call system of vervet monkeys as a case study, I argue that interpersonal communication (or what I call “minded communication”) can and does take place in the absence of the production and recognition of communicative intentions. More generally, I argue that evolutionary theory provides good reasons for maintaining that minded communication is both temporally and explanatorily prior to the use of (...)
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    Social Origins of Language. [REVIEW]Josh Armstrong - 2018 - Quarterly Review of Biology 93.
    A review of *The Social Origins of Language* by Robert M. Seyfarth and Dorothy L. Cheney; edited and introduced by Michael L. Platt.
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    Meanings Without Species.Josh Armstrong - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In this paper, I critically assess Mark Richard’s interesting and important development of the claim that linguistic meanings can be fruitfully analogized with biological species. I argue that linguistic meanings qua cluster of interpretative presuppositions need not and often do not display the population-level independence and reproductive isolation that is characteristic of the biological species concept. After developing these problems in some detail, I close with a discussion of their implications for the picture that Richard paints concerning the dangers of (...)
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    Truth and Imprecision.Josh Armstrong - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    Our ordinary assertions are often imprecise, insofar as the way we represent things as being only approximates how things are in the actual world. The phenomenon of assertoric imprecision raises a challenge to standard accounts of both the norm of assertion and the connection between semantics and the objects of assertion. After clarifying these problems in detail, I develop a framework for resolving them. Specifically, I argue that the phenomenon of assertoric imprecision motivates a rejection of the widely held belief (...)
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