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Learnability and Compositionality

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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.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-06-01

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