, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 419-452

Holism, Language Acquisition, and Algebraic Logic

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Abstract

In the first section of this paper I present a well known objection to meaning holism, according to which holism is inconsistent with natural language being learnable. Then I show that the objection fails if language acquisition includes stages of partial grasp of the meaning of at least some expressions, and I argue that standard model theoretic semantics cannot fully capture such stages. In the second section the above claims are supported through a review of current research into language acquisition. Finally, in the third section it is argued that contemporary algebraic logical systems consist in a superior formal vehicle through which to capture stages of partial grasp of meaning; this claim is supported by concrete examples.