How seriously should we take Minimalist syntax? A comment on Lasnik

Abstract
Lasnik’s review of the Minimalist program in syntax [1] offers cognitive scientists help in navigating some of the arcana of the current theoretical thinking in transformational generative grammar. One may observe, however, that this journey is more like a taxi ride gone bad than a free tour: it is the driver who decides on the itinerary, and questioning his choice may get you kicked out. Meanwhile, the meter in the cab of the generative theory of grammar is running, and has been since the publication of Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures in 1957. The fare that it ran up is none the less daunting for the detours made in his Aspects of Theory of Syntax in 1965, Government and Binding in 1981, and now The Minimalist Program, in 1995. Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, it seems like never in the field of cognitive science was so much owed by so many of us to so few (the generative linguists). For most of us in the cognitive sciences this situation will appear quite benign (that is, if we don’t hold a grudge for having been taken for a longer than necessary ride), if we realize that it is the generative linguists who should by rights be paying this bill. The reason for that is simple and is well known in the philosophy of science: putting forward a theory is like taking out a loan, to be repayed by gleaning an empirical basis for it; theories that fail to do so (or their successors that may have bought their debts) are declared bankrupt. In the sciences of the mind, this maxim translates into the need to demonstrate the psychological (behavioral), and, eventually, the neurobiological, reality of the theoretical constructs. Many examples of this process can be found in the study of human vision, where, as in language, direct observation of the underlying mechanisms is difficult; for instance, the concept of multiple parallel spatial frequency channels, introduced in the late 1960s, was completely vindicated by purely behavioral means over the following decade; see, e.g., [2]. In linguistics, the nature of the requisite evidence is well described by Townsend and Bever: “What do we test today if we want to explore the behavioral implications of syntax? ..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,449
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2010-12-22

Total downloads

3 ( #299,245 of 1,103,218 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #183,768 of 1,103,218 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.