Dupre, G (2022) Reference and morphology*. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. ISSN 0031-8205

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The dominant tradition in analytic philosophy of language views reference as paradigmatically enabled by the acquisition of words from other speakers. Via chains of transmission, these words connect the referrer to the referent. Such a picture assumes the notion of a word as a stable mapping between sound and meaning. Utterances are constructed out of such stable mappings. While this picture of language is both intuitive and historically distinguished, various trends and programs that have developed over the last few decades in theoretical linguistics suggest an alternative. According to these approaches, the word, conceived of as a linguistic ‘building block’, has no special theoretical significance. While natural language systems generate structures mapping sounds onto meanings, they need not do so by composing elements which themselves specify such mappings. I shall describe some of these developments, and show how they pose a problem for traditional philosophical views of language and communication, before identifying an alternative approach to reference which does not rely on this common-sense picture of words.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2022 15:04
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2022 15:04
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/11047

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