Internalist priorities in a philosophy of words

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Words appear to be denizens of the external world or, at any rate, not wholly mental, unlike our pains. It is the norm for philosophical accounts of words to reflect this appearance by offering various socio-cultural conditions to which an adequate account of wordhood must cleave. The paper argues, to the contrary, that an adequate account of word phenomena need avert to nothing other than individual psychology along with potential external factors that in-themselves do not count as linguistic. My principal leverage will be that, by everyone’s lights, whatever words are, they are syntactically combinable and possess structural properties. But such conditions cannot be externally realised; instead, they are aspects of our internally realised cognitive capacity. It will also be argued, however, that the position is consistent with much of our common lore about words, albeit sans an externalist linguistic ontology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023


  • Externalism
  • Internalism
  • Ontology
  • Syntax
  • Words

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