My contribution takes up a set of methodological and philosophical issues in linguistics that have recently occupied the work of Devitt and Rey. Devitt construes the theories of generative linguistics as being about an external linguistic reality of utterances, inscriptions, etc.; that is, Devitt rejects the ‘psychologistic’ construal of linguistics. On Rey’s conception, linguistics concerns the mental contents of speaker / hearers; there are no external linguistic items at all. I reject both views. Against Devitt, I (...) argue that the philosophical issues in linguistics should be framed in terms of the theories themselves, not pre-theoretical conceptions front either philosophy or commonsense as to what linguistics is about or what a language is. In this light, I suggest that Devitt’s key arguments (concerning parameter setting, psychological reality, and the role of intuitions) do not make sense of current linguistic inquiry and so do not offer an adequate philosophical basis of that work. To this extent, I agree with Rey. Ourdifferences emerge over the putative role of content in linguistic inquiry and how the concept of computation ought to be understood. Following the lead of Chomsky’s recent philosophical remarks, I argue that a theory of the language faculty should be understood as an abstract specification of the function that pairs ‘sound’ with ‘meaning’ rather than as a specification of the content the mind represents. But doesn’t ‘computation’ presuppose ‘representation’? I argue for a negative answer, at least if ‘representation’ is read intentionally. A ‘representation’ can be construed as brain structure that, at the present stage of inquiry, can only be picked out via the abstract concepts of linguistic theory. We are entitled to posit such structures insofar as they earn their explanatory keep over the output of the faculty. The linguistic function is a way of setting the boundary conditions on what the brain must be doing such that humans get to be competent speaker / hearers, although we do not therefore take the function to be a story of the causal spring of linguistic performance. (shrink)
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)
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.
Evans & Levinson's (E&L's) critique of Universal Grammar fails because their methodology is flawed, as illustrated in their discussion of the Subjacency Condition. The lack of explicit analysis leads the authors to a false conclusion that is refuted by work published in this journal twenty years ago. They miss the point that unanalyzed data cannot disprove grammatical hypotheses.
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.
Chomsky's current Biolinguistic methodology is shown to comport with what might be called 'established' aspects of biological method, thereby raising, in the biolinguistic domain, issues concerning biological autonomy from the physical sciences. At least current irreducibility of biology, including biolinguistics, stems in at least some cases from the very nature of what I will claim is physiological, or inter-organ/inter-component, macro-levels of explanation which play a new and central explanatory role in Chomsky's inter-componential explanation of certain properties of the syntactic (...) component of Universal Grammar. Under this new mode of explanation, certain physiological functions of cognitive mental organs are hypothesized, in an attempt to explain aspects of their internal anatomy. Thus, the internal anatomy of the syntactic component exhibits features that enable it to effectively interface with other 'adjacent' organs, such as the Conceptual-Intensional system and the Sensory- Motor system. These two interface systems take as their inputs the assembled outputs of the syntactic component and, as a result of the very syntactic structure imposed by the syntax are then able to assign their sound and meaning interpretations. If this is an accurate characterization, Chomsky's long-standing postulation of mental organs, and I will argue, the advancement of new hypotheses concerning physiological inter-organ functions, has attained in current biolinguistic Minimalist method a significant unification with foundational aspects of physiological explanation in other areas of biology. (shrink)
Borg (2009) surveys and rejects a number of arguments in favour of semantic internalism. This paper, in turn, surveys and rejects all of Borg's anti-internalist arguments. My chief moral is that, properly conceived, semantic internalism is a methodological doctrine that takes its lead from current practice in linguistics. The unifying theme of internalist arguments, therefore, is that linguistics neither targets nor presupposes externalia. To the extent that this claim is correct, we should be internalists about linguistic phenomena, including (...) semantics. (shrink)
In this paper, we introduce the methodology and techniques of metaargumentation to model argumentation. The methodology of meta-argumentation instantiates Dung's abstract argumentation theory with an extended argumentation theory, and is thus based on a combination of the methodology of instantiating abstract arguments, and the methodology of extending Dung's basic argumentation frameworks with other relations among abstract arguments. The technique of meta-argumentation applies Dung's theory of abstract argumentation to itself, by instantiating Dung's abstract arguments with meta-arguments using (...) a technique called flattening. We characterize the domain of instantiation using a representation technique based on soundness and completeness. Finally, we distinguish among various instantiations using the technique of specification languages. (shrink)
I present a novel, collaborative, methodology for linguistics: what I call the ‘explanatory economy’. According to this picture, multiple models/theories are evaluated based on the extent to which they complement one another with respect to data coverage. I show how this model can resolve a long-standing worry about the methodology of generative linguistics: that by creating too much distance between data and theory, the empirical credentials of this research program are tarnished. I provide justifications of such (...) methodologically central distinctions as the competence/performance and core/periphery distinction, and then show how we can understand the push for simplicity in the history of generative grammar in this light. (shrink)
The following method is popular in some areas of philosophy and linguistics when trying to describe the semantics of a given sentence Φ. Present ordinary speakers with scenarios that involve an utterance of Φ, ask them whether these utterances are felicitous or infelicitous and then construct a semantics that assigns the truth-value True to felicitous utterances of Φ and the truth-value False to infelicitous utterances of Φ. The author makes five observations about this intuition-based approach to semantics; their upshot (...) is that it should be revised in favour of a more nuanced method. The author suggests that this method should be based on corpus linguistics and makes some tentative remarks about what it might look like and which questions we need to address in order to develop it. (shrink)
The abstract found at the beginning of most journal articles has increasingly become an essential part of the article. It tends to be the first part of the article to be read and, to some extent, it `sells' the article. Acquiring the skills of writing an abstract is therefore important to novice writers to enter the discourse community of their discipline. Based on 30 abstracts from three journals, the present study aims at exploring not only the rhetorical moves of abstracts (...) in the fields of applied linguistics and educational technology, but also the linguistic realizations of moves and authorial stance in different abstract moves. The results show that there are three obligatory moves in abstracts in these two disciplines — Presenting the research, Describing the methodology, and Summarizing the results. The results also indicate that a combination of certain linguistic features such as grammatical subjects, verb tense and voice can help distinguish moves in the abstract. The findings of the study have some pedagogical implications for academic writing courses for graduate students, especially students from non-English backgrounds. (shrink)
The philosophy of linguistics is a rich philosophical domain which encompasses various disciplines. One of the aims of this thesis is to unite theoretical linguistics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science and the ontology of language. Each part of the research presented here targets separate but related goals with the unified aim of bringing greater clarity to the foundations of linguistics from a philosophical perspective. Part I is devoted to the methodology of linguistics (...) in terms of scientific modelling. I argue against both the Conceptualist and Platonist interpretations of linguistic theory by means of three grades of mathematical involvement for linguistic grammars. Part II explores the specific models of syntactic and semantics by an analogy with the harder sciences. In Part III, I develop a novel account of linguistic ontology and in the process comment on the type-token distinction, the role and connection with mathematics and the nature of linguistic objects. In this research, I offer a structural realist interpretation of linguistic methodology with a nuanced structuralist picture for its ontology. This proposal is informed by historical and current work in theoretical linguistics as well as philosophical views on ontology, scientific modelling and mathematics. (shrink)
A consumer health information system must be able to comprehend both expert and non-expert medical vocabulary and to map between the two. We describe an ongoing project to create a new lexical database called Medical WordNet (MWN), consisting of medically relevant terms used by and intelligible to non-expert subjects and supplemented by a corpus of natural-language sentences that is designed to provide medically validated contexts for MWN terms. The corpus derives primarily from online health information sources targeted to consumers, and (...) involves two sub-corpora, called Medical FactNet (MFN) and Medical BeliefNet (MBN), respectively. The former consists of statements accredited as true on the basis of a rigorous process of validation, the latter of statements which non-experts believe to be true. We summarize the MWN / MFN / MBN project, and describe some of its applications. (shrink)
Sixty three papers divided into eleven sections ranging through the philosophy of logic, mathematics, physics, social sciences, history and linguistics. The conference seems to have been used primarily for summing up recent achievements or continuing well-established lines of research, rather than for developing new perspectives --R. J. B.
I argue that what determines whether a science is ‘formal’ or ‘empirical’ is not the ontological status of its objects of study, but, rather, its methodology. Since all sciences aim at generalizations, and generalizations concern types, if types are abstract (non-spatiotemporal) objects, then all sciences are concerned to discover the nature of certain abstract objects. What distinguishes empirical from formal sciences is how they study such things. If the types of a science have observable instances (‘tokens’), then the nature (...) of the types may be determined empirically. If they types have either abstract tokens, or no tokens at all, their nature must be determined by non-empirical methods involving intuition, reasoning and proof. I conclude that the status of (theoretical) linguistics depends on the methodologies of syntax, semantics, phonology, morphology and orthography (and any other subdiscipline that is concerned with the study of the structure of language). (shrink)
Derrida considered himself Marx's successor in Spectres of Marx, as manifested in his grammatological deconstruction of linguistics. Proceeding from linguistics, Derrida questioned the traditional linguistics represented by Saussure, overturned the metaphysics based on linguistic signs, and thereby deconstructed logocentrism. In Derrida's view, logocentrism is the belief that there is an ultimate reality such as being, essence, truth and ideas, which actually doesn't exist and needs to be negated. In linguistics, logocentrism, or rather phonocentrism, maintains that speech (...) alone conveys ideas smoothly while writing is a simple supplement. Contrary to this idea, Derrida argued that writing could also convey meanings just as speech according to social convention. This deconstruction of traditional linguistics by Derrida shows his adoption of Marxist theory and methodology as well as the significant linguistic influence of Marxist theory with its contemporary perspective. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the target article “How and Why the Brain Lays the Foundations for a Conscious Self” by Martin V. Butz. Excerpt: In this commentary to Martin V. Butz’s target article I am especially concerned with his remarks about language (§33, §§71–79, §91) and modularity (§32, §41, §48, §81, §§94–98). In that context, I would like to bring into discussion my own work on computational models of self-monitoring (cf. Neumann 1998, 2004). In this work I explore the idea (...) of an anticipatory drive as a substantial control device for modelling high-level complex language processes such as selfmonitoring and adaptive language use. My work is grounded in computational linguistics and, as such, uses a mathematical and computational methodology. Nevertheless, it might provide some interesting aspects and perspectives for constructivism in general, and the model proposed in Butz’s article, in particular. (shrink)
A syntax of a major area of Middle English, this book seeks to bridge the gap between philology and linguistics. The historical study of English syntax has suffered from being at the meeting point of two traditions: the philological, which tends to focus on the analysis of texts and to avoid questions of linguistic interpretations, and a more recent linguistic one, which tends to focus on the grammatical systems of languages and often fails to appreciate the limitations of textual (...) evidence and the careful interpretation needed before grammatical account can be based confidently on textual evidence. The work is based on a study of the sermons of John Wyclif, so it is important for students not only of Middle English but also of the history of English, since the author argues that the language of the sermons is important step in the development of Standard English. The book also seeks to demonstrate an appropriate methodology for the writing of linguistically informed grammars of dead languages, and provides a major response to the work of Lightfoot on diachronic syntax. (shrink)
Logic, Methodology, and the Philosophy of Science, the Proceedings of the 1960 International Congress at Stanford, is heavily weighted towards technical problems of logic, foundations of mathematics, and the special sciences, especially psychology, economic models, and structural linguistics, with little discussion of general problems of the philosophy of science. Problems about the idealization involved in the relation of theories to the world become problems about probabilistic models at various levels of abstraction ; induction becomes a problem in decision (...) theory ; language becomes the subject-matter of formalized syntactics, and so on. There is nothing in the least undesirable about these inquiries in a Philosophy of Science Congress, but there is a danger that, if they are not balanced by more informal discussions, real points of dispute are missed, or decided over-hastily in the brief preliminaries of formalization. The philosopher's job ought sometimes to be the more irritating one of returning to these points of dispute; a job which is well done in some of the contributions to this volume, but one could wish to find it being done in more. In what follows I shall have to restrict myself to commenting on only a handful of these more philosophical papers. (shrink)
This book compares attitudes to empiricism in language study from mid-twentieth century philosophy of language and from present-day linguistics. It focuses on responses to the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle, particularly in the work of British philosopher J. L. Austin and the much less well-known work of Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess.
There is a recent and growing trend in philosophy that involves deferring to the claims of certain disciplines outside of philosophy, such as mathematics, the natural sciences, and linguistics. According to this trend— deferentialism , as we will call it—certain disciplines outside of philosophy make claims that have a decisive bearing on philosophical disputes, where those claims are more epistemically justified than any philosophical considerations just because those claims are made by those disciplines. Deferentialists believe that certain longstanding philosophical (...) problems can be swiftly and decisively dispatched by appeal to disciplines other than philosophy. In this paper we will argue that such an attitude of uncritical deference to any non-philosophical discipline is badly misguided. With reference to the work of John Burgess and David Lewis, we consider deference to mathematics. We show that deference to mathematics is implausible and that main arguments for it fail. With reference to the work of Michael Blome-Tillmann, we consider deference to linguistics. We show that his arguments appealing to deference to linguistics are unsuccessful. We then show that naturalism does not entail deferentialism and that naturalistic considerations even motivate some anti-deferentialist views. Finally, we set out deferentialism’s failings and present our own anti-deferentialist approach to philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
Who are the best subjects for judgment tasks intended to test grammatical hypotheses? Michael Devitt ( [2006a] , [2006b] ) argues, on the basis of a hypothesis concerning the psychology of such judgments, that linguists themselves are. We present empirical evidence suggesting that the relevant divide is not between linguists and non-linguists, but between subjects with and without minimally sufficient task-specific knowledge. In particular, we show that subjects with at least some minimal exposure to or knowledge of such tasks tend (...) to perform consistently with one another—greater knowledge of linguistics makes no further difference—while at the same time exhibiting markedly greater in-group consistency than those who have no previous exposure to or knowledge of such tasks and their goals. (shrink)
Linguists often advert to what are sometimes called linguistic intuitions. These intuitions and the uses to which they are put give rise to a variety of philosophically interesting questions: What are linguistic intuitions – for example, what kind of attitude or mental state is involved? Why do they have evidential force and how might this force be underwritten by their causal etiology? What light might their causal etiology shed on questions of cognitive architecture – for example, as a case study (...) of how consciously inaccessible subpersonal processes give rise to conscious states, or as a candidate example of cognitive penetrability? What methodological issues arise concerning how linguistic intuitions are gathered and interpreted – for example, might some subjects' intuitions be more reliable than others? And what bearing might all this have on philosophers' own appeals to intuitions? This paper surveys and critically discusses leading answers to these questions. In particular, we defend a ‘mentalist’ conception of linguistics and the role of linguistic intuitions therein. (shrink)
Linguists, particularly in the generative tradition, commonly rely upon intuitions about sentences as a key source of evidence for their theories. While widespread, this methodology has also been controversial. In this paper, I develop a positive account of linguistic intuition, and defend its role in linguistic inquiry. Intuitions qualify as evidence as form of linguistic behavior, which, since it is partially caused by linguistic competence (the object of investigation), can be used to study this competence. I defend this view (...) by meeting two challenges. First, that intuitions are collected through methodologically unsound practices, and second, that intuition cannot distinguish between the contributions of competence and performance systems. (shrink)
My paper defends the use of the poverty of stimulus argument (POSA) for linguistic nativism against Cowie's (1999) counter-claim that it leaves empiricism untouched. I first present the linguistic POSA as arising from a reflection on the generality of the child's initial state in comparison with the specific complexity of its final state. I then show that Cowie misconstrues the POSA as a direct argument about the character of the pld. In this light, I first argue that the data Cowie (...) marshals about the pld does not begin to suggest that the POSA is unsound. Second, through a discussion of the so-called `auxiliary inversion rule', I show, by way of diagnosis, that Cowie misunderstands both the methodology of current linguistics and the complexity of the data it is obliged to explain. (shrink)
The present paper focuses on the use of deliberately misleading or unintentionally misinformative phrases related to the so called “Polish concentration camp” issue. This problem has been gaining increasing attention in the Polish media and political sphere. In the article I present the background of the problem including the current legal situation, as well as a linguistic analysis of a selection of problematic collocations. I attempt to maintain an objective stance and refrain from passing any emotional judgement on the issue, (...) providing, at the same time, an in-depth analysis of the linguistic data. I frame the present paper within the cognitive linguisticsmethodology. I combine Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner’s Conceptual Integration Theory with Kerstin Norén and Per Linell’s concept of meaning potentials in order to account for the emergent and modifiable nature of meanings of complex expressions. (shrink)
Chomsky’s principle of epistemological tolerance says that in theoretical linguistics contradictions between the data and the hypotheses may be temporarily tolerated in order to protect the explanatory power of the theory. The paper raises the following problem: What kinds of contradictions may be tolerated between the data and the hypotheses in theoretical linguistics? First a model of paraconsistent logic is introduced which differentiates between week and strong contradiction. As a second step, a case study is carried out which (...) exemplifies that the principle of epistemological tolerance may be interpreted as the tolerance of week contradiction. The third step of the argumentation focuses on another case study which exemplifies that the principle of epistemological tolerance must not be interpreted as the tolerance of strong contradiction. The reason for the latter insight is the unreliability and the uncertainty of introspective data. From this finding the author draws the conclusion that it is the integration of different data types that may lead to the improvement of current theoretical linguistics and that the integration of different data types requires a novel methodology which, for the time being, is not available. (shrink)
This paper has two objectives. The first is to formulate a critique of present-day cognitive linguistics concerning the inner workings of the cognitive system during language use, and the second is to put forward an alternative account that is inspired by the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty. Due to its third-person methodology, CL views language use essentially as a problem-solving activity, as coping with two subproblems: the problem of minimum and maximum, which consists in selecting the appropriate expression out of (...) an unlimited multitude of possibilities, and the problem of the underdetermination of signification. This approach presupposes a notion of an isolated subject and a representationalist view of perception. We defend an alternative view of man's relation to the world in which intersubjectivity is constitutive of embodied subjectivity and which exchanges the representationalist view of perception for a direct nonrepresentationalism. We describe the ensuing view of linguistic action as intra- and interpersonal “all-at-onceness.” This approach dismisses the two subproblems CL implicitly identifies as constitutive of language use. The first is countered by rethinking what it means to be a situated speaking subject and results in the concept of “style.” The second is tackled by opposing the concept of “overdetermination” to CL's notion of underdetermination. (shrink)
This study concerns the distribution of metaphorical lexis in discrete syntactic constructions. Source and target seed language from established conceptual metaphors in economic discourse is used to catalogue the specific patterns of how metaphorical pairs align in five syntactic constructions: A-NP, N-N, NP-of-NP, V-NP, and X is Y. Utilizing the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the examination includes 12 frequent metaphorical target triggers combined with 84 source triggers to produce 2,016 ordered collocations, i.e. investment freeze and turbulent market. Through detailed (...) type and token counts, results confirm that source domains function as conceptual material used to structure the target domain and disproportionally fill syntactic positions associated with predication, Studies in cognitive corpus linguistics. Frankfurt: Peter Lang Publishers; Sullivan, Karen. 2013. Frames and constructions in metaphoric language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing). Given a lexeme’s origin – source or target – when used in source-target metaphors, syntactic alignment can be predicted, market climate is metaphorical, climate market is not. Exceptions to these strong tendencies are explained through genre-specific lexicalization processes in which predicate denoting terms like bubble establish themselves as domain modifiers in economic jargon. Through quantitative techniques to gage metaphorical conventionality and lexical versatility, corpus methodology is used to define and inform the value of frequency effects in cataloguing and understanding metaphorical lexicalization. (shrink)
My modest aim in this note is to sketch three interrelated critiques of public languages, and to respond to them. All are broadly Chomskyan, and all support the same conclusion: that, insofar as they even exist, the study of public languages is not a viable scientific project. (Related critiques of semantics, understood as involving word–world relations, will be touched on as well).