I think Berkeley would endorse the following argument:
Among these premises, I think (3) is the one that is easiest to attribute to Berkeley; it follows from what Martha Brandt Bolton calls the theory of 'idea-objects'. Prior to the introduction of any conventions regarding the use of ideas as signs, ideas only represent by (exact) resemblance. But, by the Likeness Principle, ideas could not resemble mind-independent material objects. The fact that these are premises in Berkeley's main arguments for immaterialism shows that he takes them to be prior to immaterialism.
Pinning (1) on Berkeley is trickier, but I think it follows from his view that suggestion arises by habituation, and linguistic rules are typically followed by suggestion. That is, in order to follow a linguistic rule, I have to be conditioned to pass from one idea to another, or from an idea to an action, or something like that, by experience. But I can't experience the correlation unless I can experience both correlata first. These views are also clearly prior to immaterialism.
I am much less confident about (2). A section in a yet-to-be-written chapter of my dissertation will address questions of reference in Berkeley's theory of language. I still have more thinking to do about it. It sure seems like something like this is going on in Berkeley's account of how physical object talk works, but the theory also needs to be able to deal with spirits, and that's hard (see Cummins).
For present-day philosophers, I suppose the obvious premise to reject is (3), the same one that Berkeley most clearly endorses. Quine, however, seems to be committed to (3); that is, he seems to think that it's only by learning the 'thing-language' that one can come to think about (e.g.) rabbits, or even some one particular rabbit. Quine's inscrutability of reference thesis, however, commits him to rejecting (or at least refraining from endorsing) (2).
(cross-posted at The Mod Squad)Posted by Kenny at October 4, 2012 6:27 PM
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