Mind and Language 32 (1):65-100 (2017)

Authors
Frank Cabrera
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Abstract
Here, I consider the recent application of phylogenetic methods in historical linguistics. After a preliminary survey of one such method, i.e. cladistic parsimony, I respond to two common criticisms of cultural phylogenies: that cultural artifacts cannot be modeled as tree-like because of borrowing across lineages, and that the mechanism of cultural change differs radically from that of biological evolution. I argue that while perhaps remains true for certain cultural artifacts, the nature of language may be such as to side-step this objection. Moreover, I explore the possibility that cladistic parsimony can be justified even if is true by appealing to the inference pattern known among philosophers as ‘Inference to the Best Explanation’.
Keywords Parsimony  Historical LInguistics  Phylogenetic Inference  Inference to the Best Explanation  Likelihoodism
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DOI 10.1111/mila.12133
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References found in this work BETA

The Inference to the Best Explanation.Gilbert H. Harman - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):88-95.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.David L. Hull - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):421-423.
The Best Explanation: Criteria for Theory Choice.Paul R. Thagard - 1978 - Journal of Philosophy 75 (2):76-92.

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