Noam Chomsky’s well-known claim that linguistics is a “branch of cognitive psychology” has generated a great deal of dissent—not from linguists or psychologists, but from philosophers. Jerrold Katz, Scott Soames, Michael Devitt, and Kim Sterelny have presented a number of arguments, intended to show that this Chomskian hypothesis is incorrect. On both sides of this debate, two distinct issues are often conflated: (1) the ontological status of language and (2) the relation between psychology and linguistics. The ontological issue (...) is, I will argue, not the relevant issue in the debate. Even if this Chomskian position on the ontology of language is false, linguistics may still be a subfield of psychology if the relevant methods in linguistic theory construction are psychological. Two options are open to the philosopher who denies Chomskian conceptualism: linguistic nominalism or linguistic platonism. The former position holds that syntactic, semantic, and phonological properties are primarily properties, not of mental representations, but rather of public languagesentence tokens; The latter position holds that the linguistic properties are properties of public language sentence types. I will argue that both of these positions are compatible with Chomsky’s claim that linguistics is a branch of psychology, and the arguments that have been given for nominalism and platonism do not establish that linguistics and psychology are distinct disciplines. (shrink)
Linguists take the intuitive judgments of speakers to be good evidence for a grammar. Why? The Chomskian answer is that they are derived by a rational process from a representation of linguistic rules in the language faculty. The paper takes a different view. It argues for a naturalistic and non-Cartesian view of intuitions in general. They are empirical central-processor responses to phenomena differing from other such responses only in being immediate and fairly unreflective. Applying this to linguistic intuitions yields an (...) explanation of their evidential role without any appeal to the representation of rules. Introduction The evidence for linguistic theories A tension in the linguists' view of intuitions Intuitions in general Linguistic intuitions Comparison of the modest explanation with the standard Cartesian explanation A nonstandard Cartesian explanation of the role of intuitions? Must linguistics explain intuitions? Conclusion. (shrink)
Evidence is presented to show that the role of a generative grammar of a natural language is not merely to generate the grammatical sentences of that language, but also to relate them to their logical forms. The notion of logical form is to be made sense of in terms a natural logic, a logical for natural language, whose goals are to express all concepts capable of being expressed in natural language, to characterize all the valid inferences that can be made (...) in natural language, and to mesh with adequate linguistic descriptions of all natural languages. The latter requirement imposes empirical linguistic constraints on natural logic. A number of examples are discussed. (shrink)
After reviewing some major features of theinteractions between Linguistics and Philosophyin recent years, I suggest that the depth and breadthof current inquiry into semanticshas brought this subject into contact both with questionsof the nature of linguistic competence and with modern andtraditional philosophical study of the nature ofour thoughts, and the problems of metaphysics.I see this development as promising for thefuture of both subjects.
In this chapter we use methods of corpus linguistics to investigate the ways in which mathematicians describe their work as explanatory in their research papers. We analyse use of the words explain/explanation (and various related words and expressions) in a large corpus of texts containing research papers in mathematics and in physical sciences, comparing this with their use in corpora of general, day-to-day English. We find that although mathematicians do use this family of words, such use is considerably less (...) prevalent in mathematics papers than in physics papers or in general English. Furthermore, we find that the proportion with which mathematicians use expressions related to ‘explaining why’ and ‘explaining how’ is significantly different to the equivalent proportion in physics and in general English. We discuss possible accounts for these differences. (shrink)
A modal logic is developed to deal with finite ordered binary trees a they are used in linguistics. A modal language is introduced with operators for the ‘mother of’, ‘first daughter of’ and ‘second daughter of’ relations together with their transitive reflexive closures. The relevant class of tree models is defined and three linguistic applications of this language are discussed: context free grammars, command relations, and trees decorated with feature structures. An axiomatic proof system is given for which completeness (...) is shown with respect to the class of finite ordered binary trees. A number of decidability results follow. (shrink)
A theory of knowledge is the explanation of things in terms of the possibilities and capabilities of the human way of knowing. The human knowledge is the representation of the things apprehended sensitively either through the senses or intuition. A theory of knowledge concludes about the reality of the things studied. As such it is a priori speculation, based on synthetic a priori statements. Its conclusions constitute interpretation, that is, hermeneutics. Linguistics as the science studying real language, that is, (...) the language spoken, reverts to human subjects in as much as they speak, say and know. Language thus must be studied as a theory of knowledge. (shrink)
The beginning of this century hailed a new paradigm in linguistics, the paradigm brought about by de Saussure's Cours de Linguistique Generale and subsequently elaborated by Jakobson, Hjelmslev and other linguists. It seemed that the linguistics of this century was destined to be structuralistic. However, half of the century later a brand new paradigm was introduced by Chomsky's Syntactic Structures followed by Montague's formalization of semantics. This new turn has brought linguistics surprisingly close to mathematics and logic, (...) and has facilitated a direct practical exploitation of linguistic theory by computer science. (shrink)
This book deals with the need to rethink the aims and methods of contemporary linguistics. Orthodox linguists' discussions of linguistic form fail to exemplify how language users become language makers. Integrationist theory is used here as a solution to this basic problem within general linguistics. The book is aimed at an interdisciplinary readership, comprising those engaged in study, teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences, including linguistics, philosophy, sociology and psychology.
Michael Devitt has argued that Chomsky, along with many other Linguists and philosophers, is ignorant of the true nature of Generative Linguistics. In particular, Devitt argues that Chomsky and others wrongly believe the proper object of linguistic inquiry to be speakers' competences, rather than the languages that speakers are competent with. In return, some commentators on Devitt's work have returned the accusation, arguing that it is Devitt who is ignorant about Linguistics. In this note, I consider whether there (...) might be less to this apparent dispute than meets the eye. -/- . (shrink)
This article surveys the philosophical literature on theoretical linguistics. The focus of the paper is centred around the major debates in the philosophy of linguistics, past and present, with specific relation to how they connect to the philosophy of science. Specific issues such as scientific realism in linguistics, the scientific status of grammars, the methodological underpinnings of formal semantics, and the integration of linguistics into the larger cognitive sciences form the crux of the discussion.
This edited volume offers ten new essays on semantics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of linguistics by top scholars in the field. Covering a wide range of topics, the collection is sure to be of interest to scholars in those areas as well as some philosophers of mind. Because of the diversity of topics and perspectives inherent in the collection, readers will find both exposition and debate among the contributors.
Twitter is a linguistic marketplace in which the processes of self-branding and micro-celebrity depend on visibility as a means of increasing social and economic gain. Hashtags are a potent resource within this system for promoting the visibility of a Twitter update. This study analyses the frequency, types and grammatical context of hashtags which occurred in a dataset of approximately 92,000 tweets, taken from 100 publically available Twitter accounts, comparing the discourse styles of corporations, celebrity practitioners and ‘ordinary’ Twitter members. The (...) results suggest that practices of self-branding and micro-celebrity operate on a continuum which reflects and reinforces the social and economic hierarchies which exist in offline contexts. Despite claims that hashtags are ‘conversational’, this study suggests that participatory culture in Twitter is not evenly distributed, and that the discourse of celebrity practitioners and corporations exhibits the synthetic personalization typical of mainstream media forms of broadcast talk. (shrink)
Demonstrative noun phrases (e.g., that guy , this ) are of interest to philosophers of language and semanticists because they are sensitive to demonstrations or speaker intentions. The interpretation of a demonstrative therefore sheds light on the role of the context in natural language semantics. This survey reviews two types of approaches to demonstratives: Kaplan's direct reference treatment of demonstratives and other indexicals, and recent challenges to Kaplan's approach that focus on less obviously context-sensitive uses of demonstratives. The survey then (...) covers selected research on demonstratives in linguistics. This research offers new empirical puzzles and contrasting theoretical approaches to demonstratives. (shrink)
Linguistics, Anthropology and Philosophy in the French Enlightenment treats the development of linguistic thought from Descartes to Degerando as both a part of and a determining factor in the emergence of modern consciousness. Through his careful analyses of works by the most influential thinkers of the time, author Ulrich Ricken demonstrates that the central significance of language in the philosophy of the enlightenment is how it reflected and acted upon contemporary understanding of humanity as a whole. Although primarily focused (...) on French thought between 1650 and 1800, the author discusses contemporary developments in England, Germany and Italy and covers an unusually broad range of writers and ideas, including Leibniz, Wolff, Herder and Humboldt. This study places the history of language philosophy within the broader context of the history of ideas, aesthetics and historical anthropology and will be of interest to scholars working in these disciplines. (shrink)
In light of the sharp linguistic turn philosophy has taken in this century, this collection provides a much-needed and long-overdue reference for philosophical discussion. The first collection of its kind, it explores questions of the nature and existence of linguistic objects--including sentences and meanings--and considers the concept of truth in linguistics. The status of linguistics and the nature of language now take a central place in discussions of the nature of philosophy; the essays in this volume both inform (...) these discussions and lay the groundwork for further examination. (shrink)
Stanley and Williamson have defended the intellectualist thesis that knowing-how is a subspecies of knowing-that by appeal to the syntax and semantics of ascriptions of knowing-how. Critics have objected that this way of defending intellectualism places undue weight on linguistic considerations and fails to give sufficient attention to empirical considerations from the scientific study of the mind. In this paper, I examine and reject Stanley's recent attempt to answer the critics.
In this paper I address the issue of the subject matter of linguistics. According to the prominent Chomskyan view, linguistics is the study of the language faculty, a component of the mind-brain, and is therefore a branch of cognitive psychology. In his recent book Ignorance of Language Michael Devitt attacks this psychologistic conception of linguistics. I argue that the prominent Chomskyan objections to Devitt's position are not decisive as they stand. However, Devitt's position should ultimately be rejected (...) as there is nothing outside of the mind of a typical speaker that could serve to fix determinate syntactic rules of her language or constitute the supervenience base of her connection to any such rules. (shrink)