Chomsky and Intentionality

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This chapter describes some basic, often puzzling features of intentionality, with an eye to its role not so much in ordinary folk ascriptions but in serious psychological explanations, especially in many of Noam Chomsky's own presentations of his theory. It then considers Chomsky's censure of the notion, leading him to deny what would seem to be the explicit intentionalisms on which he seems to rely. Implicit in Chomsky's treatment of grammar is the idea that the positing of the language faculty offers an "abstract" perspective on a physical system (the human brain) that implements the relevant features of the abstracta in ways we currently don't understand. Two initial problems might be raised for this picture, one regarding inference and the other, generalization. The proposed model is effectively saying that theorists track states and generalizations of the linguistic system in an explicitly representational format, but what the theory is true of need not have such representational properties.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Chomsky
EditorsNicholas Allott, Terje Lohndal, Georges Rey
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781119598732
ISBN (Print)9781119598701
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2021


  • Generalization
  • Intentionalisms
  • Intentionality
  • Language faculty
  • Linguistic system
  • Noam chomsky

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