Internal unity in science again

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

What kind of a science is Generative Syntax?

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?

Colin Phillips on the Theory/Experiment divide.

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.

On the general character of semantic theory (Part a)

(AKA Katz's Semantic Theory (Part IIIa). This post discusses chapter 2 of Jerrold Katz's 1972 opus. For my discussion of chapter 1, go here.) Having delineated in chapter 1 which questions a semantic theory ought to answer, Katz goes on in chapter 2 to sketch the sort of answer that a such a theory would give. … Continue reading On the general character of semantic theory (Part a)

Tarring Universal Grammar with the Brexit brush

Over at Psychology Today, Vyv Evans, cognitive linguist and UG critic, has written a piece criticizing generative linguistics, and those who defend its practice. In particular he criticizes what he sees as the shape-shifting nature of UG. I don’t want to address the substance of Evans’ piece, but rather a rhetorical choice he makes, specifically, … Continue reading Tarring Universal Grammar with the Brexit brush

Don’t believe the rumours. Universal Grammar is alive and well.

As I write this I am sitting in the Linguistics Department lounge at the University of Toronto. Grad students and Post-doctoral researchers are working, chatting, making coffee. Faculty members pop in every now and then, taking breaks from their work. It’s a vibrant department, full of researchers with varied skills and interests. There are those … Continue reading Don’t believe the rumours. Universal Grammar is alive and well.