Quine on Shared Language and Linguistic Communities
Received: 1 March 2017 /Revised: 9 July 2017 /Accepted: 6 October 2017 /
Published online: 14 October 2017
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017
Abstract In this paper, I discuss Quine’s views on language sharing and linguistic
communities. It is sometimes explicitly and often implicitly taken for granted that
Quine believes that speakers can form communities in which they share a language.
The aim of the paper is to show that this is a misinterpretation and, on the contrary,
Quine is closer to linguistic individualism – the view according to which there is no
guarantee that speakers within a community share a language and the notion of idiolect
is more fundamental than the notion of shared language.
If we want to give a general account on what natural languages are, how they are
formed by speakers and how communication works we have basically two options: to
take either the notion of shared language or the notion of idiolect as fundamental. We
can include Lewis (1969, 1975) or normative inferentialists such as Brandom (1994,
2000) and Peregrin (2014) among those who take the notion of shared language as
fundamental. On the other side of the spectrum, we can find people like Chomsky
(1986, 1992, 1995)orDavidson’s views on communication (1986, 1994) and some of
Philosophia (2018) 46:83–99
E.g. Ludlow (2014)orGlüer(2013), though their interpretations of Davidson differ.
* Matej Drobňák
Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Philosophical Faculty, University of Hradec
Králové, náměstí Svobody 331, 50003 Hradec Králové, Czech Republic