Philosophical naturalism and linguistic epistemology

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The first part of the article provides a general working definition of linguistic naturalism and briefly describes the forms it took in pre-modern theories of language, pointing out those aspects that are still present in the modern-day debate (Section 1). It then shows that two different notions of the <i>a priori </i>are at the root of two competing forms of modern linguistic naturalism (Section 2). These are discussed in the next paragraphs, in which Chomsky’s internalist naturalism is contrasted with Quine’s externalist naturalism (Section 3), and with more recent research programs that can be subsumed under the rubric of ‘developmental’ naturalism. These focus on the formation of the <i>a priori </i>structures of subjectivity, and on the interaction of those structures and social practices from a phylogenetic (Section 4) and ontogenetic perspective (Section 5). A last paragraph (Section 6) draws a few conclusions.


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