An interpretation of Chomsky's linguistic philosophy
This paper discusses the philosophical foundation of generative grammar in terms of mentalism, naturalism, internalism, individualism and "best theory". Mentalism means that human knowledge of language can be studied via computation and representation. Naturalism suggests that we can study language and mind using the same method as that in natural sciences. Internalism emphasizes the study of abstract representations inside the human brain. Individualism implies that the internal states of the brain being studied are characteristic of the individual. Chomsky takes universal grammar and particular grammars as real objects in the world. The objectiveness of theoretical terms and assertions that are used to describe the two types of grammar can be accounted for by what he terms as the "best theory", an approach to developing a theory with the "best" explanatory power.