In philosophy of language it is standard to demand of a theory of meaning that it explains how expressions in a natural language relate to the extralinguistic world. In other words, it is demanded that the theory employs a notion of reference relation, and spells out how this relation maps lexical items in a natural language to things in the world, such as individuals and sets of individuals.

In the biolinguistic framework, by contrast, it is claimed that expressions in natural language are not related by reference to things in the extralinguistic world. On this view, any systematic account of natural language must treat meaning as individual, internal and as specified in intension.

My aim in the talk is, first, to argue that this difference in approach consists in a genuine disagreement, as opposed to a mere difference in interest. Second, I will argue that the biolinguistic approach deserves attention from philosophers.