ABSTRACT. In this paper we will critically analyze the foundational claims of biolinguistics, situating it in the context of the realist-conceptualist debate on the ontological foundations of linguistics (Chomsky, 1966; Behme, 2015), an argument that is both abstractly philosophical and empirical. While summarizing both proposals pointing out shortcomings at the theoretical level (primarily), we will consider alternatives in order to prove that logically consistent systems are attainable outside the artificial polarization the formal field has suffered, without falling into either of the apparently binary terms. In the second part of the article, we will carefully revise the main claims of conceptualism and realism and look for logical inconsistencies in their own terms in order to demystify the allegedly exclusive “debate” and generate awareness of the need of new, superating alternatives. While the paper does not propose a framework itself (but refers to existent alternatives), its main aim is to stress the necessity of alternative theories, thus desmistifying the polarization of Linguistics; and programs for the development of the field focusing on interdisciplinary studies. As a result, we will show that consistent alternatives that do not fall into the labels of “realism” or “conceptualism” are not only possible, but also desirable. pp. 115–166

Keywords: realism; conceptualism; metalinguistics; linguistic ontology; biolinguistics

How to cite: Krivochen, Diego Gabriel (2016), “On the Realism–Conceptualism Debate about the Ontology of Linguistic Objects: Theoretical and Epistemological Consequences,” Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 15: 115–166.

Received 16 December 2014 • Received in revised form 9 June 2015
Accepted 10 June 2015 • Available online 1 April 2016

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School of Psychology and
Clinical Language Sciences,
University of Reading

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