Logical Form in Natural Language

William G. Lycan, Timothy McCarthy, George Lakoff, Lynne Rudder Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


William Lycan's Logical Form in Natural Language provides a vigorous defense of the view that the primary component of the meaning of a sentence consists in the conditions that would make the sentence true. In addition to tracing out the implications of this view of semantics for linguistics, Lycan also argues that both syntax and semantics are psychologically real in that our linguistic abilities depend not just on formal syntactic capacities but also on the ability to interpret idioms in terms of truth conditions. Timothy McCarthy, a logician, George Lakoff, a linguist, and Lynne Rudder Baker, a philosopher of mind, each examine a critical component of Lycan's analysis. McCarthy considers the technical apparatus of the truth conditional analysis of meaning and maintains that it is not adequate to reveal the basic semantical commitments of language. Lakoff raises methodological objections to Lycan's attempt to ground the interpretation of language on truth conditions and rejects the paradox Lycan claims to find in the type of analysis of performatives Lakoff and others have advanced. Finally, Baker focuses on Lycan's claim of psychological reality by challenging the adequacy of the interpretation function Lycan proposes for dealing with contextual variables affecting semantic interpretation. Lycan offers responses to each of these critical essays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-35
Number of pages5
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Philosophy


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