Linguistics as a science of structure [chapter]

Ryan M. Nefdt
2019 Zenodo  
Generative linguistics has rapidly changed during the course of a relatively short period. This has caused many to question its scientific status as a realist scientific theory (Stokhof & van Lambalgen 2011; Lappin et al. 2000). In this chapter, I argue against this conclusion. Specifically, I claim that the mathematical foundations of the science present a different story below the surface. I agree with critics that due to the major shifts in theory over the past 80 years, linguistics is
more » ... inguistics is indeed opened up to the problem of pessimistic meta-induction or radical theory change. However, I further argue that a structural realist approach (Ladyman 1998; French 2006) can save the field from this problem and at the same time capture its structural nature. I discuss particular historical instances of theory change in generative grammar as evidence for this interpretation and finally attempt to extend it beyond the gener- ative tradition to encompass previous frameworks in linguistics.
doi:10.5281/zenodo.2654360 fatcat:d3h7hh7cezgizkwmyi3l6gy2tm