Counter Examples in Linguistics, the Case of Circassian as a Split Anaphor Language

(2006)  “Counter Examples in Linguistics, the Case of Circassian as a Split Anaphor Language, “ Linguistica Atlantica 25. (33 pages)

1. Introduction. As anyone who has worked in linguistics can attest, counter-examples have had a distinctly weak role in the recent history of the field. Followers of Chomsky have maintained that for a counter-example to have force, it must come with its own full counter-theory. Curiously, Chomsky himself has always been more open to examining data on its own merits, but such distortions are not unusual in the history of any field. In effect, this position taken by many of his students rules out virtually all counter examples of any interest. I shall argue that this position, never articulated as far as I know in any formal document, is based upon an erroneous concept of the scientific enterprise. In effect the Chomskyan demand renders linguistics a doctrine rather than a science. A careful examination of science, chiefly physics in my case, leads to a number of distinctions between the verified assertions of a theory and those assertions that fail to fall within the theory. The case is not one of binary valued logic, of true and false, but of finer shades of accord or conflict.

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