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Are Linguists Better Subjects?

Jennifer Culbertson and Steven Gross
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Vol. 60, No. 4 (Dec., 2009), pp. 721-736
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25592032
Page Count: 16
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Are Linguists Better Subjects?
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Abstract

Who are the best subjects for judgment tasks intended to test grammatical hypotheses? Michael Devitt ([2006a], [2006b]) argues, on the basis of a hypothesis concerning the psychology of such judgments, that linguists themselves are. We present empirical evidence suggesting that the relevant divide is not between linguists and non-linguists, but between subjects with and without minimally sufficient task-specific knowledge. In particular, we show that subjects with at least some minimal exposure to or knowledge of such tasks tend to perform consistently with one another-greater knowledge of linguistics makes no further difference-while at the same time exhibiting markedly greater in-group consistency than those who have no previous exposure to or knowledge of such tasks and their goals.

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