Language Acquisition. I: Rationalists vs. Empiricists

  • Joseph Margolis
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 57)


If we reflect on the argument thus far, we shall see that reductive accounts of both mental states and of persons have been resisted and provisionally stalemated. Against mind/body identity theories and eliminative materialism, we have argued that mental and psychological attributes are ascribed that, though they must be suitably associated with physical processes, do not plausibly lead to the theories favored; and against reductive accounts of persons, we have argued that the distinctive abilities of persons and the potential complexity of individuating persons once again lead us away from the theories favored. These maneuvers are not unreasonable, but it must be admitted that they are insufficiently developed. What we need to know, rather more precisely, is just what sort of abilities we ascribe to persons that would, at one and the same time, tend to undercut both forms of reductionism. The answer is, language; but its full implications cannot be sketched at a stroke. Curiously, also, an adequate theory of language illuminates the distinction of sentient and languageless creatures as well.


Natural Language Language Acquisition Linguistic Universal Human Language Empiricist Theory 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Margolis

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