Dictionary of Arguments


Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute
 
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Entry
Reference
Induction Deacon I 127
Induction/language acquisition/deacon: In the broadest sense, learning can be understood as logical induction. According to Willam Ramsey and Stephen Stich, not even a scientist who has all the empirical information on utterances, which have been made so far,... ---
I 128
...determine the rules of a language inductively(1). (See also language rules, problem of induction). It would be practically impossible to exclude all possible variants in a manageable time. Language learning/Deacon: but does not happen in this inductive way. Rather, learning is rather a combination of the learning process with the patterns to be learned. In some cases this is more efficient, in others it is much less efficient. This concerns in particular the learning of symbol systems. See Symbols/Deacon.


(1) W. Ramsey und S. Stich, (1991): Connectionism and three levels of nativism in W. Ramsey, S. Stich and D. Rumelhart (Eds.) Philosophy and Connectionist Theory, Hillsdale, NJ.

Dea I
T. W. Deacon
The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of language and the Brain New York 1998

Dea II
Terrence W. Deacon
Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter New York 2013

Language Acquisition Deacon I 39
Language acquisition/evolution/development of language/complexity/simplicity/Deacon: there are two paradigms: a) Evolution of greater intelligence
b) Evolution of a specific speech organ
Both have in common that the problem is learning a very large number of complex rules and that the complexity is simply too great for species other than humans.
DeaconVs: complexity is only one problem and not the deciding factor.
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I 53
Language acquisition/Deacon: depends decisively on non-linguistic communication. Much of it is already innate in animals. We also use a lot of non-linguistic elements such as tone of voice, gestures, etc. in everyday speech. ---
I 125
Language Learning/Deacon: that children learn language best at a certain age seems to speak for innate structures in the brain. A better explanation seems to me to be the immaturity of children or young chimpanzees like Kanzi. We do not need to adopt an essentialist position if we concentrate on this aspect. ---
I 126
In this age of immaturity, children have little memory performance for details. Young Bonobo Kanzi was able to concentrate strongly on the proper use of symbols, while older chimpanzees had to learn what to focus on. ---
I 127
If this is true, it must be a characteristic of childhood that is independent of language. GoldVsChomsky/Deacon: Gold(1) brought a logical proof that rules of a logical system with the structural complexity of a natural grammar cannot be discovered inductively without explicit error correction, even not theoretically. It is not their complexity that is decisive, but the fact that the rules are not mapped on the surface of the sentence form. Instead, they are embodied in widely distributed word relations and are used recursively (repeatedly). This multiplies the possibilities of how a rule could actually be constructed geometrically. This makes it impossible for a child or other language learners to derive the correct rules from the nature of the language. This has led many authors to adopt innate abilities. See Induction/Deacon.
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I 128
Language Acquisition/Newport/Deacon: Question: Why can children learn grammar more easily than other things that are much easier?(2)(3) ---
I 137
Language acquisition/Elissa Newport/Deacon: Newport was one of the first to propose that language learning for children should not be perceived as a function of a particular language learning system, but vice versa; such language structures are best passed on from generation to generation, which best correspond to the child's learning biases. ---
I 339
Language acquisition/adaptation/brain/evolution/Deacon: in addition to the constant sensomotoric conditions of language use, there are also invariances of language evolution that affect the context of language learning. There are three types of language adaptation: a) innate, b) learned, c) those that develop in the interaction between the innate and the experienced. Universality is not a sure indicator that something of the evolution has been built into our brains.

(1) Gold, E. (1967), Language identification in the limit. Information and Control 16, 447-474.
(2) Newport, E. (1991), Maturational consteraints on language learning, Cognitive Science 14, 11-28.
(3) Newport, E. (1991), Contrasting conceptions oft he critical period for language. In: S. Carey and R. Gelma (Eds.) Epigenesis of Mind: Essys on Biology and Cognition, NJ.

Dea I
T. W. Deacon
The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of language and the Brain New York 1998

Dea II
Terrence W. Deacon
Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter New York 2013

Universal Grammar Deacon I 38
Universal Grammar/Pinker/Deacon: Pinker is a representative of many ideas of Chomsky about the uniqueness of human language. Language instinct/Pinker/Deacon: Thesis: innate grammatical knowledge is not incompatible with an adaptive interpretation of its origin. This instinct could have developed gradually in the course of natural selection. In this way, we avoid having to accept improbable coincidences(1).
Deacon: on the other hand, this does not yet provide us with a formal explanation of language competence and how it was created in the selection process.
DeaconVsPinker: Pinker's theory of linguistic instinct repeats only a description of the problem and gives it a new name.
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I 103
Universal grammar/Chomsky/Deacon: (Chomsky 1972(2);1980(3);1988(4)) Chomsky assumed three insights: 1. The logical structure of grammar is much more complex than previously assumed, but it does not pose a problem for speakers of a language.
2. Although languages have very different features on the surface, ...
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I 104
...they have a common deep structure (depth logic). This, in turn, makes it difficult to discover these rules, which must first be made accessible indirectly. 3. one can observe that children quickly learn a remarkable knowledge of the complex grammatical rules, without the trial and error procedure.
Some authors have expanded this to the thesis that the abstract rules for a natural language could never be discovered.
Other authors argued that one could never inductively infer the rules from texts if there was no prior knowledge of grammar. (See Chomsky and Miller, 1963 for a formal representation of this argument).
DeaconVsUniversal Grammar: this cure is more radical than the suffering it is supposed to eliminate. Your assumptions about brains and evolution are far too strong. It turns children into super-intelligent learning subjects.
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I 105
Some authors VsUniversal Grammar: assume that straw men are build here: a limited model of language acquisition as an induction and the assertion that language experience takes place without feedback. ---
I 138
Universal Grammar/DeaconVsUniversal Grammar/Deacon: Definition Pidgin language/pidgin languages/Deacon: these are languages that have arisen from a collision of native languages of an area with immigrant languages.
Pidgin languages are no one's mother tongue. They can disappear within a generation in favour of "Creole languages". Surprisingly, the syntactic structures of different Creole languages are similar.
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I 139
Among other things, Bickerton (1981(5), 1984(6), 1990(7)) takes this as evidence of innate grammatical patterns. DeaconVsBickerton/DeaconVsUniversal Grammar: We can explain the language learning skills differently than through an innate universal grammar: the children take many phrases as an unanalysed whole first, and then break them down later.
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I 140
Brains have developed in such a way that they can apply different learning strategies at different points in time. These strategies compete for neural resources.

(1) Pinker, Steven (2000): The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: Perennial Classics.
(2) Chomsky, Noam (1972)
(3) Chomsky, Noam (1980)
(4) Chomsky, Noam (1988)
(5) Bickerton, Derek (1981): Roots of language. Ann Arbor: Karoma Publishers, Inc., Pp. xiii + 351.
(6) Bickerton, Derek (1984): The Language bioprogram hypothesis, June 1984, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 7(02): 173 - 188.
(7) Bickerton, Derek (1990): Language & Species. University of Chicago Press.

Dea I
T. W. Deacon
The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of language and the Brain New York 1998

Dea II
Terrence W. Deacon
Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter New York 2013