Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Linguistic Epiphenomenalism ‐ Davidson and Chomsky on the Status of Public Languages

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of the Philosophy of History

The aim of this paper is to highlight an individualist streak in both Davidson’s conception of language and Chomsky’s. In the first part of the paper, I argue that in Davidson’s case this individualist streak is a consequence of an excessively strong conception of what the compositional nature of linguistic meaning requires, and I offer a weaker conception of that requirement that can do justice to both the publicity and the compositionality of language. In the second part of the paper, I offer a comparison between Davidson’s position on the unreality of public languages, and Chomsky’s position regarding the epiphenomenal status of “externalized” languages. In Chomsky’s case, as in Davidson’s, languages are individuated in terms of the formal theories that serve to account for their systematic structure, and this assumption rests upon a similarly strong and similarly questionable understanding of what it is to employ finite means in pursuit of an infinite task. The alternative, at which I can only hint, is a view of language as a social and historical reality, i.e., a realm of social fact that cannot be exhausted by any formal theory and cannot be reduced to properties of individual speakers.

Affiliations: 1: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Email:


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of the Philosophy of History — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation