Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 7, pp 1855–1871 | Cite as

Linguistic labor and its division

  • Jeff EngelhardtEmail author


This paper exposes a common mistake concerning the division of linguistic labor. I characterize the mistake as an overgeneralization from natural kind terms; this misleads philosophers about (1) which terms are subject to the division of linguistic labor, (2) what linguistic labor is, (3) how linguistic labor is divided, and (4) how the extensions of non-natural kind terms subject to the division of linguistic labor are determined. I illustrate these points by considering Sally Haslanger’s account of the division of linguistic labor for social kind terms and raising an objection to it. Then, I draw on Tyler Burge’s work to characterize a conception of the division of linguistic labor that (a) avoids the mistaken overgeneralization and (b) grounds 1–4 above in social norms and practices.


The division of linguistic labor Social kind terms Haslanger Burge 



Thanks to an anonymous referee for this journal for pointing out that the argument needs to be made explicit.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDickinson CollegeCarlisleUSA

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