Saturday, January 3, 2009

My views on the NATURE-NURTURE debate – Part 9


Having looked at the key arguments put forth over the past forty years or so, and having duly criticised them in light of Popper’s meta-theoretical paradigm, we are now in a position to evaluate the status quo.

As Cowley puts it, if we value the facts over and above our theoretical biases, “Sampson’s argument holds”, and no “empirical grounds justify the hypothesis that we embody genetically encoded X-bars, traces, cases and other formal paraphernalia”. Their theories are “riddled with implausibility”, and their “flaws are all too obvious”.

Carr joins a growing number of academics in saying that the predecessors of the Minimalist Program have expired, and that “Minimalism may well meet the same fate”.

Despite the fact that Sampson’s case may not be watertight, he does indeed raise some questions which are worth serious consideration. What is certain is that the foundation upon which nativism stands is a lot more fragile than most of the linguistics world would like it to be. If we stop seeing the world through nativist glasses, and approach the study of language and mind in a more scientific manner, it would be much more conducive to the scientific search for truth.

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