Fodor on Inscrutability

Jerome C. Wakefield

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Abstract

    Jerry Fodor (1994) proposes a solution to Quine's inscrutability-of-reference problem for certain naturalized semantic theories, thereby defending such theories from charges that they cannot discriminate meanings finely enough. His proposal, combining elements of informational and inferential-role semantics, is to eliminate non-standard interpretations by testing predicate compatibility relations. I argue that Fodor's proposal, understood as primarily aimed at Mentalese, withstands Ray's (1997) and Gates's (1996) objections but nonetheless fails because of unwarranted assumptions about ontological homogeneity of target language predicates, and problems with Fodor's reliance on predicate conjunction to resolve ambiguity. Naturalized semantics thus remains without an answer to the inscrutability objection.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)524-537
    Number of pages14
    JournalMind and Language
    Volume18
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2003

    Fingerprint

    semantics
    interpretation
    language
    Ontological
    Jerry Fodor
    Semantic Roles
    Language
    Mentalese
    Reliance
    Homogeneity
    Semantic Theory
    Compatibility
    Testing
    homogeneity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Philosophy
    • Linguistics and Language

    Cite this

    Fodor on Inscrutability. / Wakefield, Jerome C.

    In: Mind and Language, Vol. 18, No. 5, 01.11.2003, p. 524-537.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Wakefield, JC 2003, 'Fodor on Inscrutability', Mind and Language, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 524-537. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0017.00241
    Wakefield, Jerome C. / Fodor on Inscrutability. In: Mind and Language. 2003 ; Vol. 18, No. 5. pp. 524-537.
    @article{1852e27a7faf4e31a9dec617df478d89,
    title = "Fodor on Inscrutability",
    abstract = "Jerry Fodor (1994) proposes a solution to Quine's inscrutability-of-reference problem for certain naturalized semantic theories, thereby defending such theories from charges that they cannot discriminate meanings finely enough. His proposal, combining elements of informational and inferential-role semantics, is to eliminate non-standard interpretations by testing predicate compatibility relations. I argue that Fodor's proposal, understood as primarily aimed at Mentalese, withstands Ray's (1997) and Gates's (1996) objections but nonetheless fails because of unwarranted assumptions about ontological homogeneity of target language predicates, and problems with Fodor's reliance on predicate conjunction to resolve ambiguity. Naturalized semantics thus remains without an answer to the inscrutability objection.",
    author = "Wakefield, {Jerome C.}",
    year = "2003",
    month = "11",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1111/1468-0017.00241",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "18",
    pages = "524--537",
    journal = "Mind and Language",
    issn = "0268-1064",
    publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
    number = "5",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Fodor on Inscrutability

    AU - Wakefield, Jerome C.

    PY - 2003/11/1

    Y1 - 2003/11/1

    N2 - Jerry Fodor (1994) proposes a solution to Quine's inscrutability-of-reference problem for certain naturalized semantic theories, thereby defending such theories from charges that they cannot discriminate meanings finely enough. His proposal, combining elements of informational and inferential-role semantics, is to eliminate non-standard interpretations by testing predicate compatibility relations. I argue that Fodor's proposal, understood as primarily aimed at Mentalese, withstands Ray's (1997) and Gates's (1996) objections but nonetheless fails because of unwarranted assumptions about ontological homogeneity of target language predicates, and problems with Fodor's reliance on predicate conjunction to resolve ambiguity. Naturalized semantics thus remains without an answer to the inscrutability objection.

    AB - Jerry Fodor (1994) proposes a solution to Quine's inscrutability-of-reference problem for certain naturalized semantic theories, thereby defending such theories from charges that they cannot discriminate meanings finely enough. His proposal, combining elements of informational and inferential-role semantics, is to eliminate non-standard interpretations by testing predicate compatibility relations. I argue that Fodor's proposal, understood as primarily aimed at Mentalese, withstands Ray's (1997) and Gates's (1996) objections but nonetheless fails because of unwarranted assumptions about ontological homogeneity of target language predicates, and problems with Fodor's reliance on predicate conjunction to resolve ambiguity. Naturalized semantics thus remains without an answer to the inscrutability objection.

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0242350892&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0242350892&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1111/1468-0017.00241

    DO - 10.1111/1468-0017.00241

    M3 - Review article

    AN - SCOPUS:0242350892

    VL - 18

    SP - 524

    EP - 537

    JO - Mind and Language

    JF - Mind and Language

    SN - 0268-1064

    IS - 5

    ER -