Logical Form and the Vernacular
Mind & Language
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Vernacularism is the view that logical forms are fundamentally assigned to natural language expressions, and are only derivatively assigned to anything else, e.g., propositions, mental representations, expressions of symbolic logic, etc. In this paper, we argue that Vernacularism is not as plausible as it first appears because of non-sentential speech. More specifically, there are argument-premises, meant by speakers of non-sentences, for which no natural language paraphrase is readily available in the language used by the speaker and the hearer. The speaker can intend this proposition and the hearer can recover it (and its logical form). Since they cannot, by hypothesis, be doing this by using a sentence of their shared language, the proposition-meant has its logical form non-derivatively, which falsifies Vernacularism. We conclude the paper with a brief review of the debate on incomplete definite descriptions in which Vernacularism is assumed as a suppressed premise.