David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Cognition 95 (2):201-236 (2005)
We examine the question of which aspects of language are uniquely human and uniquely linguistic in light of recent suggestions by Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch that the only such aspect is syntactic recursion, the rest of language being either speciﬁc to humans but not to language (e.g. words and concepts) or not speciﬁc to humans (e.g. speech perception). We ﬁnd the hypothesis problematic. It ignores the many aspects of grammar that are not recursive, such as phonology, morphology, case, agreement, and many properties of words. It is inconsistent with the anatomy and neural control of the human vocal tract. And it is weakened by experiments suggesting that speech perception cannot be reduced to primate audition, that word learning cannot be reduced to fact learning, and that at least one gene involved in speech and language was evolutionarily selected in the human lineage but is not speciﬁc to recursion. The recursion-only claim, we suggest, is motivated by Chomsky’s recent approach to syntax, the Minimalist Program, which de-emphasizes the same aspects of language. The approach, however, is sufﬁciently problematic that it cannot be used to support claims about evolution. We contest related arguments that language is not an adaptation, namely that it is “perfect,” non-redundant, unusable in any partial form, and badly designed for..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
Derek C. Penn, Keith J. Holyoak & Daniel J. Povinelli (2008). Darwin's Mistake: Explaining the Discontinuity Between Human and Nonhuman Minds. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (2):109-130.
Christina Behme (2011). Language Universals. Philosophical Psychology 24 (6):867-871.
Adele E. Goldberg (2008). Universal Grammar? Or Prerequisites for Natural Language? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (5):522-523.
Casey O'Callaghan (2010). Experiencing Speech. Philosophical Issues 20 (1):305-332.
Nicholas Evans & Stephen C. Levinson (2009). The Myth of Language Universals: Language Diversity and its Importance for Cognitive Science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (5):429-448.
Similar books and articles
W. Tecumseh Fitch (2005). The Evolution of Language: A Comparative Review. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):193-203.
Noam Chomsky, Marc Hauser, Fitch D. & W. Tecumseh (2005). Appendix. The Minimalist Program. Philosophical Explorations.
W. Tecumseh Fitch, Marc Hauser, Chomsky D. & Noam (2005). The Evolution of the Language Faculty: Clarifications and Implications. Cognition 97:179-210.
Marc Hauser, Chomsky D., Fitch Noam & W. Tecumseh (2002). The Faculty of Language: What is It, Who has It, and How Did It Evolve? Science 298 (22):1569-1579.
Johan De Smedt (2009). Cognitive Modularity in the Light of the Language Faculty. Logique Et Analyse 208:373-387.
Steven Pinker (2005). The Nature of the Language Faculty and its Implications for Evolution of Language (Reply to Fitch, Hauser, and Chomsky). Cognition 97 (2):211-225.
Ray Jackendoff (2005). The Nature of the Language Faculty and its Implications for Evolution of Language (Reply to Fitch, Hauser, and Chomsky). Cognition 97 (2):211-225.
Steven Pinker (2005). The Faculty of Language: What's Special About It? Cognition 95 (2):201-236.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads85 ( #18,786 of 1,410,540 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #108,810 of 1,410,540 )
How can I increase my downloads?