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07/10/2011

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Neal Goldfarb

Although Mikhail's "Universal Moral Grammar" has gotten a lot of attention, there hasn't been much discussion of whether, by relying on Chomsky and the concept of universal grammar, Mikhail's ideas are built on a foundation of quicksand.

Chomsky is a very controversial figure within linguistics, and his suggestion that there exist such things as universal grammar and innate linguistic knowledge is hotly disputed. See, for the example, Evans & Nicholson, The myth of language universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science (http://tinyurl.com/5spfhb4).

From what I've seen, the discussion of Mikhail's work by philosophers and legal academics uncritically accepts Mikhail's Chomskyan framework. Before continuing too far down that road, it might make sense to consider whether that framework is empirically valid.

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