Revisited Linguistic Intuitions

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):639 - 656 (2011)
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Michael Devitt ([2006a], [2006b]) argues that, insofar as linguists possess better theories about language than non-linguists, their linguistic intuitions are more reliable. (Culbertson and Gross [2009]) presented empirical evidence contrary to this claim. Devitt ([2010]) replies that, in part because we overemphasize the distinction between acceptability and grammaticality, we misunderstand linguists' claims, fall into inconsistency, and fail to see how our empirical results can be squared with his position. We reply in this note. Inter alia we argue that Devitt's focus on grammaticality intuitions, rather than acceptability intuitions, distances his discussion from actual linguistic practice. We close by questioning a demand that drives his discussion—viz., that, for linguistic intuitions to supply evidence for linguistic theorizing, a better account of why they are evidence is required

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Steven Gross
Johns Hopkins University


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