I thank Philip Robbins and two anonymous referees for helpful comments on previous drafts.
Learnability and Compositionality
Version of Record online: 1 JUN 2005
Mind & Language
Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 326–352, June 2005
How to Cite
Patterson, D. (2005), Learnability and Compositionality. Mind & Language, 20: 326–352. doi: 10.1111/j.0268-1064.2005.00288.x
- Issue online: 1 JUN 2005
- Version of Record online: 1 JUN 2005
Abstract: In recent articles Fodor and Lepore have argued that not only do considerations of learnability dictate that meaning must be compositional in the well-known sense that the meanings of all sentences are determined by the meanings of a finite number of primitive expressions and a finite number of operations on them, but also that meaning must be ‘reverse compositional’ as well, in the sense that the meanings of the primitive expressions of which a complex expression is composed must be determined by the meaning of that complex expression plus the manner of its composition. I argue against the requirement of reverse compositionality and against the claim that learnability requires it. I consider some objections and close the paper by arguing against the related claim that concepts are reverse compositional.