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Eliminating Empty Categories

A Radically Minimalist View on Their Ontology and Justification

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Diego Gabriel Krivochen and Peter Kosta

This collaborative book has a twofold purpose. On the one hand, the authors present a new framework – Radical Minimalism. The development of such a framework, with a strong basis on mathematics and physics, was born out of the conviction that, if language is really a natural object, there is no a priori reason to study it in isolation from other natural systems. On the other hand, this work represents a significant simplification of the theory of displacement and so-called «empty categories» within the latest development of Chomsky’s Strong Minimalist Hypothesis, applying Occam’s razor and fulfilling Lakatos’ requirements for scientific evolution. Radical Minimalism thus accounts not only for the phenomena orthodox minimalism has explanations for, but also for empirical problems that have not yet been taken into consideration.

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Preface

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The present collaborative book has a twofold purpose. On the one hand, we want to present and explain a new-born framework: Radical Minimalism. The development of such a framework, with strong basis on mathematics and phys- ics, was born out of the conviction that, if language is really a natural object – a fundamental claim in mainstream “biolinguistic” currents –, there is no a priori reason to study it in isolation from other natural systems. This translates in the definition of “language” as a physical system, in the relevant sense of “portion of the Universe considered for analysis”. On the other hand, this work also shows some of the empirical consequences this theory has, and its potential to account for multiple phenomena that have proven problematic since first spotted within generative studies and alternative frameworks. Our goal is to show that Radical Minimalism is a formalized theory with a strong empirical coverage, which not only implies a substantive simplification of current models but also increases the explanatory power, as it accounts for problematic phenomena in an elegant and truly “minimalist” way applying Occam’s Razor in its strongest ver- sion, both substantively and methodologically. It is our strong belief that Radical Minimalism fulfills Lakatos’ (1978) requirements for scientific evolution: Radi- cal Minimalism represents a significant simplification of the theoretical machin- ery, while accounting not only for the phenomena orthodox Minimalism has ex- planations for (in the specific domain of displacement and so-called “empty cat- egories”, such is the scope of the present book)...

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