What “Intuitions” are Linguistic Evidence?

Erkenntnis 73 (2):251-264 (2010)
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Abstract

In "Intuitions in Linguistics" (2006a) and Ignorance of Language (2006b) I took it to be Chomskian orthodoxy that a speaker's metalinguistic intuitions are provided by her linguistic competence. I argued against this view in favor of the alternative that the intuitions are empirical theory-laden central-processor responses to linguistic phenomena. The concern about these linguistic intuitions arises from their apparent role as evidence for a grammar. Mark Textor, "Devitt on the Epistemic Authority of Linguistic Intuitions" (2009), argues that I have picked the wrong intuitions: I should have picked non-judgmental linguistic "seemings". These reside between metalinguistic judgments and linguistic performances and have an epistemic authority that the orthodox view may well be able to explain. Textor seems to think that the metalinguistic intuitions are not evidence at all. I argue that he is wrong about that. More importantly, I argue that there are no "in-between" linguistic seemings with epistemic authority

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Michael Devitt
CUNY Graduate Center

Citations of this work

If Folk Intuitions Vary, Then What?Edouard Machery, Ron Mallon, Shaun Nichols & Stephen P. Stich - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (3):618-635.
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Against epistemic absolutism.Changsheng Lai - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3945-3967.

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References found in this work

Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
New horizons in the study of language and mind.Noam Chomsky - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Ignorance of Language.Michael Devitt - 2006 - Oxford, GB: Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Are linguists better subjects?Jennifer Culbertson & Steven Gross - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):721-736.
Intuitions in linguistics.Michael Devitt - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (3):481-513.

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