Minds and Machines

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 127–131 | Cite as

Ruth Garrett Millikan, Language: A Biological Model

Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005, vii+228, £18.99, ISBN 978-0-19-928477-1
  • William Cameron
Book Review

In her book of 1984 (Millikan 1984), Professor Millikan described the terms used in human linguistic practices as devices with application explicable in the same historically emergent functional terms as kidneys, hearts, screwdrivers and bee dances. For her, ‘function’ is a technical term, carrying connotations of a determinate history of replication of some device that has emerged in order to do a job, and all of the attributes of language such as meaning, mood and force may be analysed in these terms.

Since then, Millikan has extended her natural and historical approach to a notion of ‘natural convention’ which, although it considers phenomena similar to those analysed by Lewis (1969, 1975), differs from this in many ways, and in her Jean Nicod lectures, (Millikan 2004), she defended a notion of ‘purpose’ that closely parallels her notion of function. In addition, she has broken new ground in her studies of substances and substance concepts (Millikan 2000).

The volume under review...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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