A Letter to Blackwell Publishers on Philosophy of Language, the Big Questions, edited by Andrea Nye, Blackwell Publishers, 1998


Department of Philosophy, Los Angeles Valley College

5 October 1998

Blackwell Publishers 350 Main Street
Malden, MA 02148-9933

re: Philosophy of Language, the Big Questions, edited by Andrea Nye (University of Wisconsin, Whitewater)

Dear Blackwell Publishers:

My department has received an offer for an examination copy or a discount from you for the book mentioned above.

Glancing at the prospectus, it occurs to me that this book is not appropriate for the kind of general philosophy of language class for which it is evidently intended. The presence of a selection by Benjamin Whorf in the absence of any selections by someone like Noam Chomsky would, even disregarding other indications, betray a major ideological bias in the book, which seriously misrepresents the present state of knowledge in linguistics and cognitive science about language. Whorf's views are controversial enough, and discredited enough in linguistics, that there is no justifiable reason to have him in such a collection without some indication of the scientific and philosophical response, for which Chomsky is the most famous exponent, far more famous than most of the philosophers excerpted in the collection.

I recommend that the editor in this series of philosophy books, listed as James P. Sterba (University of Notre Dame), be informed of this kind of objection to Philosophy of Language, the Big Questions.

Yours truly,
Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D.


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