Journal Article

Intuitions In Linguistics

Michael Devitt

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, issue 3, pages 481-513
Published in print September 2006 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online August 2006 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Intuitions In Linguistics

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Science and Mathematics


Show Summary Details


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.


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?


Journal Article.  15403 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.