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The Science of MeaningEssays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics$
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Derek Ball and Brian Rabern

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739548

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198739548.001.0001

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Changing Notions of Linguistic Competence in the History of Formal Semantics

Changing Notions of Linguistic Competence in the History of Formal Semantics

(p.172) 6 Changing Notions of Linguistic Competence in the History of Formal Semantics
The Science of Meaning

Barbara H. Partee

Oxford University Press

In the history of formal semantics, the successful joining of linguistic and philosophical work brought with it some difficult foundational questions concerning the nature of meaning and the nature of knowledge of language in the domain of semantics: questions in part about “what’s in the head” of a competent language-user. This chapter, part of a project on the history of formal semantics, revisits the central issues of Partee (1979) in a historical context, as a clash between two traditions, Fregean and Chomskyan, a clash that accompanied early work combining Montague’s semantics with Chomskyan syntax. Recent advances in philosophy of mind (from, e.g., Stalnaker and Burge) go a long way towards changing the framework of arguments about “psychological reality” and “competence”, challenging the suppositions on which the original dichotomy rested, thus largely defusing the tension.

Keywords:   Chomsky, generative grammar, syntax, lexical semantics, psychologism, semantic externalism, psychology, formal semantics, linguistic competence

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