Foundations of Science

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 91–108 | Cite as

The ‘Galilean Style in Science’ and the Inconsistency of Linguistic Theorising

  • András Kertész


Chomsky’s principle of epistemological tolerance says that in theoretical linguistics contradictions between the data and the hypotheses may be temporarily tolerated in order to protect the explanatory power of the theory. The paper raises the following problem: What kinds of contradictions may be tolerated between the data and the hypotheses in theoretical linguistics? First a model of paraconsistent logic is introduced which differentiates between week and strong contradiction. As a second step, a case study is carried out which exemplifies that the principle of epistemological tolerance may be interpreted as the tolerance of week contradiction. The third step of the argumentation focuses on another case study which exemplifies that the principle of epistemological tolerance must not be interpreted as the tolerance of strong contradiction. The reason for the latter insight is the unreliability and the uncertainty of introspective data. From this finding the author draws the conclusion that it is the integration of different data types that may lead to the improvement of current theoretical linguistics and that the integration of different data types requires a novel methodology which, for the time being, is not available.


Chomsky Galilean style Epistemological tolerance Theoretical linguistics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baltin M. R. (1987) Degree complements. In: Huck G. J., Ojeda A. E. (eds) Discontinuous constituency. Academic Press, Orlando, pp 11–26Google Scholar
  2. Boeckx C. (2006) Linguistic minimalism: Origins, concepts, methods and aims. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Boeckx C. (2010) Linguistic minimalism. In: Heine B., Narrog H. (eds) The Oxford handbook of linguistic analysis. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 485–505Google Scholar
  4. Borsley, R. D. (Ed.), (2005). Data in theoretical linguistics [=Lingua 115, 1475–1665].Google Scholar
  5. Botha R. P. (1983) On the ‘Galilean style’ of linguistic inquiry. Lingua 58: 1–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Botha R. P. (1988) Form and meaning in word formation: A study of Afrikaans reduplication. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brame M. (1984) Universal word induction versus move α. Linguistic Analysis 14: 313–352Google Scholar
  8. Chomsky N. (1973) Conditions on transformations. In: Anderson S., Kiparsky P. (eds) A festschrift for Morris Halle. Academic Press, New York, pp 232–286Google Scholar
  9. Chomsky N. (1980a) On binding. Linguistic Inquiry 11: 1–46Google Scholar
  10. Chomsky N. (1980b) Rules and representations. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Chomsky N. (1986) Barriers. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  12. Chomsky N. (2002) On nature and language. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chomsky N. (2004) The generative enterprise revisited. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Featherston, S. (2007). Data in generative grammar: The stick and the carrot. In W. Sternefeld (Ed.), 269–318.Google Scholar
  15. Featherston, S. (2009). A scale for measuring well-formedness: Why syntax needs boiling and freezing points. In S. Featherston & S. Winkler (Eds.), 2009. 47–73.Google Scholar
  16. Featherston, S., Winkler, S. (eds) (2009) The fruits of empirical linguistics. Vol. 1: Process. de Gruyter, Berlin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Freidin R. (2007) Generative grammar: Theory and its history. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Freidin R., Vergnaud J. R. (2001) Excuisite connections: Some remarks on the evolution of linguistic theory. Lingua 111: 639–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haegeman L. M. V. (1994) Introduction to government and binding theory. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  20. Haider H. (2004) The superiority conspiracy. In: Stepanov A., Fanselow G., Vogel R. (eds) The minimal link condition. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 167–175Google Scholar
  21. Haider H. (2005) How to turn German into Icelandic—and derive the VO-OV contrasts. The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 8: 1–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Haider, H. (2009). The thin line between facts and fiction. In S. Featherston & S. Winkler (Eds.), (pp. 75–102).Google Scholar
  23. Haider, H. (in press). Anomalies and exceptions. In H. Wiese & S. Horst (Eds.), Expecting the unexpected—exceptions in grammar (pp. 325–334). Berlin, New York: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  24. Hale M. (2007) Historical linguistics: Theory and method. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  25. Hale M., Reiss C. (2008) The phonological enterprise. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  26. Hjelmslev L. (1969) Prolegomena to a theory of language. The University of Wisconsin Press, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  27. Huang Y. (2000) Anaphora. A cross-linguistic study. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Kepser, S., Reis, M. (eds) (2005) Linguistic evidence. Empirical, theoretical and computational perspectives. de Gruyter, Berlin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Kertész A. (2004) Philosophie der linguistik. Studien zur naturalisierten Wissenschaftstheorie. Narr, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  30. Kertész, A. & Rákosi, C. (in press). Data and evidence in linguistics. A plausible argumentation model. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Kiss, K. É. (1987). Configurationality in Hungarian. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.Google Scholar
  32. Klausenburger J. (1983) Review of Botha, R., On the ‘Galilean style’ of linguistic inquiry. Language 59: 434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Meheus, J. (eds) (2002) Inconsistency in science. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  34. Moravcsik E. (2006) An introduction to syntactic theory. Continuum, London, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Moravcsik E. (2010) Conflict resolution in syntactic theory. Studies in Language 34: 636–669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mukherji N. (2010) The primacy of grammar. MIT Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. Penke, M., Rosenbach, A. (eds) (2007) What counts as evidence in linguistics?. Benjamins,   Amsterdam, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  38. Popper K. R. (1963) Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. Routledge & Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Popper, K. R. (1980). [1959]. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  40. Priest G. (2002) Paraconsistent logic. In: Gabbay D. M., Guenthner F. (eds) Handbook of philosophical logic. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 287–393Google Scholar
  41. Priest, G., Beall, J. C., Armour-Garb, B. (eds) (2004) The law of non-contradiction. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  42. Rescher N., Brandom R. (1980) The logic of inconsistency. A study in non-standard possible-world semantics and ontology. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  43. Riemer N. (2009) Grammaticality as evidence and as prediction in a galilean linguistics. Language Sciences 31: 612–633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Saddock J. M. (1991) Autolexical syntax. A theory of parallel grammatical representations. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Schlesewsky M. (2009) Linguistische daten aus experimentellen umgebungen: Eine multiexperimentelle und multimodale perspektive. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 28: 169–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schütze C. T. (1996) The empirical base of linguistics. Grammaticality judgments and linguistic methodology. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Stefanowitsch, A. & Gries, S. T. (Eds.), (2007). Grammar without grammaticality. [=Corpus linguistics and linguistic theory 3/1: 1–129].Google Scholar
  48. Sternefeld, W. (Ed.). (2007). Data in Generative Grammar [=Theoretical Linguistics 33/3: 269–413].Google Scholar
  49. Weinberg S. (1976) The forces of nature. Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 29: 13–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Winkler, S., Featherston, S. (eds) (2009) The fruits of empirical linguistics. Vol. 2: Product. de Gruyter, Berlin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. Zubizarreta, M. L. (1982). On the relationship of the lexicon to syntax. Ph.D. Dissertation. Cambridge, Mass: MITGoogle Scholar
  52. Zubizarreta M. L. (1987) Levels of representation in the lexicon and in the syntax. Foris, DordrechtGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of German LinguisticsUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary

Personalised recommendations