Workshop: Linguistic Intuitions, Evidence, and Expertise (Oct '17)

Linguists working within the generative framework traditionally use intuitive judgements about the well-formedness of utterances (also known as acceptability judgements) as evidence for theories of grammars. Usually, linguists use their own judgements or informally elicit judgements from their colleagues.

In recent years, however, this practice has been criticized for failing to uphold minimal scientific standards. As a result, new, experimental approaches have emerged that have urged the systematic gathering of data from non-linguists.

At this conference we want to bring together linguists and philosophers interested in the methodological foundations of linguistics. In particular, we want to better understand whether linguistic intuitions can legitimately be used as evidence for theories of grammar. How big is the risk of bias and distortion when linguists use their own intuitions? Can the evidential value of linguistic intuitions be improved by systematically studying the intuitions of non-linguists? Or are there good reasons to prefer the judgements of expert linguists? Although we solicit work concerning syntactic intuitions in particular, we also welcome work concerning other kinds of linguistic intuitions.

Conference date: October 25th-27th, 2017

Invited speakers:

  • John Collins (University of East Anglia)
  • Ewa Dąbrowska (Northumbria University)
  • Michael Devitt (City University of New York)
  • Sam Featherston (University of Tübingen)
  • Edward (Ted) Gibson (MIT)
  • Steven Gross (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Frederick Newmeyer (University of Washington)
  • Colin Phillips (University of Maryland)
  • Georges Rey (University of Maryland)
  • Carson Schütze (UCLA)
  • Jon Sprouse (University of Connecticut)


Contributed speakers:

  • Benjamin Bruening (University of Delaware)
  • Carlos Santana (University of Utah)
  • Jana Häussler and Tom S. Juzek (University of Wuppertal)
  • Ken Ramshøj Christensen (Aarhus University)


Speakers from the project:

  • Karen Kiil Brøcker
  • Anna Daria Drożdżowicz


Practical information