Or, how to criticize a scientific theory Recently, I discovered a book called The Primacy of Grammar by philosopher Nirmalangshu Mukherji. The book is basically an extended, and in my opinion quite good, apologia for biolinguistics as a science. The book is very readable and covers a decent amount of ground, including an entire chapter … Continue reading Internal unity in science again
As I sit at home I am presented with An infinite sparkling sea Of choices at my fingertips Such new delights offered To arrive at my demand And take me through from Day to night and back again But I would give anything to sit And lean back in the creaking chairs Of the same … Continue reading Two freedoms
In the titular essay of his 2015 book The Utopia of Rules, David Graeber argues for a distinction between play and games. Play, according to Graeber is free, creative, and open-ended, while games are rigid, repetitive, and closed-off. Play underlies art, science, conversation, and community, while games are the preferred method of bureaucracy. This idea … Continue reading Play, games, science and bureaucracy
Hi all, I've been working on a paper for a few months and it's finally reached the point where I need to show it to some people who can tell me whether or not I'm crazy. To that end, I posted it on LingBuzz. It's called "A workspace-based theory of adjuncts," and be forewarned it's … Continue reading Self-Promotion: I posted a manuscript to Lingbuzz.
In my last post, I argued that being required to pay rent to a private entity for housing is an injustice. However, as I was thinking about it, I couldn't help but think of examples were rent is justified, or perhaps just a bearable injustice. Consider, for instance, travel accommodations---hotels, hostels, B&Bs. A person travelling … Continue reading Why is temporary injustice bearable?
Rent strikes are occurring in many locations in response to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Many worker-renters have lost their income, and can no longer afford rent. The common response to a rent strike often to ask whether it is moral for tenants to withhold their rent. This, I think, is the wrong … Continue reading Is rent moral or just?
(This post is in response to a twitter argument I got into that was tipped off by an inane and glib tweet from a Bloomberg opinion writer. The gist of the tweet was that a Chomskyan analysis of the media coverage of a political campaign was useless. The results of an election merely reflects voter … Continue reading Media analysis and voter preference: A parable
Picking up on a unfollowed line of reasoning from my last post, I'd like to argue what might seem like a bold claim: The only practical way to make any discoveries or advances in any science, including syntax, is by starting with the theory. First let me head off a possible objection, namely the Kuhnian … Continue reading Theory first, then description
Recently, I found myself reading Edmund Husserl's Logical Investigations. I didn't make it that far into it---the language is rather abstruse---but included in the fragments of what I did read was a section in which Husserl clarified something that I've been thinking about recently, which is the place of theory in a science. In the … Continue reading What kind of a science is Generative Syntax?
Over on his blog, Colin Phillips has taken up the age-old theory vs experiment debate. The position he seems to take is that the contrast between theory and experiment is illusory and, therefore, the debate itself is wrong-headed. Here he is making what seems to be his main point: There’s a terminological point here that … Continue reading Colin Phillips on the Theory/Experiment divide.