Menti con significati (Con buona pace di fodor e pylyshyn)

Translated title of the contribution: Minds with meanings (Pace fodor and pylyshyn)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn have proposed a purely referential-causal semantics, a semantics without meanings. Adopting Pylyshyn’s previous treatment of the fact that we can perceive and track something before we have any idea of what that is, these authors claim that such causal relations to external entities allow us to word-label them and thereby build an entire lexicon with specific referents. I disagree and explain why I do so. The kind of semantics that I prefer is radically opposite: the one proposed by Noam Chomsky and Paul Pietroski. This is an internalist semantics that only has meanings, reference being indirect, often indefinite, sometimes problematic. Chomsky insists that the only posit that is tenable is the internal structure of the speaker-hearer, a complex, abstractly characterizable, computational-derivational apparatus, optimal if left alone, that interfaces with other cognitive apparatuses: the articulatory-perceptual one and the conceptualintentional one, satisfying the constraints that they impose. I show that the semantics proposed by Fodor and Pylyshyn is especially problematic when inexistent entities, possible entities, fictional characters and objects in the remote past are examined. It is, however, problematic even when dealing with more ordinary concepts. On the contrary, an internalist semantics avoids all these problems.

Translated title of the contributionMinds with meanings (Pace fodor and pylyshyn)
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalRivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Fodor
  • Internalist Semantics
  • Jerry A
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Paul Pietroski
  • Theory of Meaning and Reference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Minds with meanings (Pace fodor and pylyshyn)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this