A short piece by Patrick Trettenbrein on “The ‘grammar’ in Universal Grammar” briefly defends the concept of a universal grammar (UG), by making the standard Chomskyan arguments. (For my money, Derek Bickerton is the best defender of the notion.) I bring it up because it attempts to rebut an alternative “usage based approach” favored by Tomasello, Christiansen & Chater, and perhaps even this blog. In typical Chomskyan fashion it argues from first principles rather than empirical evidence. The author does not flinch in his metaphysics.
He concedes Tomasello’s point that the claim of a UG “is an unverifiable hypothesis,” but dismisses the objection on the ground that UG is “an axiom par excellence” [section 2.1] and that “questioning the existence of the UG amounts to questioning the existence of human language altogether.”