David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Linguistics and Philosophy 24 (2):139-186 (2001)
In just a few years, children achieve a stable state of linguistic competence, making them effectively adults with respect to: understanding novel sentences, discerning relations of paraphrase and entailment, acceptability judgments, etc. One familiar account of the language acquisition process treats it as an induction problem of the sort that arises in any domain where the knowledge achieved is logically underdetermined by experience. This view highlights the cues that are available in the input to children, as well as childrens skills in extracting relevant information and forming generalizations on the basis of the data they receive. Nativists, on the other hand, contend that language-learners project beyond their experience in ways that the input does not even suggest. Instead of viewing language acqusition as a special case of theory induction, nativists posit a Universal Grammar, with innately specified linguistic principles of grammar formation. The nature versus nurture debate continues, as various poverty of stimulus arguments are challenged or supported by developments in linguistic theory and by findings from psycholinguistic investigations of child language. In light of some recent challenges to nativism, we rehearse old poverty-of stimulus arguments, and supplement them by drawing on more recent work in linguistic theory and studies of child language.
|Keywords||Competence Linguistics Metaphysics Nativism Universal Grammar|
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Morten H. Christiansen & Nick Chater (2008). Language as Shaped by the Brain. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (5):489-509.
Florencia Reali & Morten H. Christiansen (2005). Uncovering the Richness of the Stimulus: Structure Dependence and Indirect Statistical Evidence. Cognitive Science 29 (6):1007-1028.
Susan Dwyer (2009). Moral Dumbfounding and the Linguistic Analogy: Methodological Implications for the Study of Moral Judgment. Mind and Language 24 (3):274-296.
Nick Chater & Morten H. Christiansen (2010). Language Acquisition Meets Language Evolution. Cognitive Science 34 (7):1131-1157.
Susan Dwyer, Bryce Huebner & Marc D. Hauser (2010). The Linguistic Analogy: Motivations, Results, and Speculations. Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):486-510.
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