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The Chomskian revolution in linguistics gave rise to a new orthodoxy about mind and language. Michael Devitt throws down a provocative challenge to that orthodoxy. What is linguistics about? What role should linguistic intuitions play in constructing grammars? What is innate about language? Is there a 'language faculty'? These questions are crucial to our developing understanding of ourselves; Michael Devitt offers refreshingly original answers. He argues that linguistics is about linguistic reality and is not part of psychology; that linguistic rules are not represented in the mind; that speakers are largely ignorant of their language; that speakers' intuitions do not reflect information supplied by the language faculty and are not the main evidence for grammars; that the rules of 'Universal Grammar' are largely, if not entirely, innate structure rules of thought; indeed, that there is little or nothing to the language faculty. Devitt's controversial theses will prove highly stimulating to anyone working on language and the mind
Michael Devitt is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He taught at the University of Sydney from 1971 until 1987 and the University of Maryland from 1988 to 1999. His main research interests are in the philosophy of language and mind, and in issues of realism. He is the author of Designation (Columbia, 1981), Realism and Truth (2nd edn with Afterword, Princeton, 1997), Coming to Our
Senses: A Naturalistic Program for Semantic Localism (Cambridge, 1996), and Language and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (with Kim Sterelny, 2nd edn, MIT, 1999).