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James D. McCawley was not only, as William Safire once wrote, "the only man in linguistics whose reputation challenges Noam Chomsky's"--he was also an inspiring accumulator of knowledge of every kind, with a remarkably holistic view of language and its relation to the other topics of his erudition. This book collects twenty of his last papers, selected by McCawley himself prior to his untimely death in 1999. Against Virtue in Syntax and Semantics, the title he chose, underscores his disdain for "virtuous" scientific behavior and blind adherence to established canons--a stance which informs each of these seminal papers, over a range of topics central to theoretical linguistics. Like previous collections of McCawley's writings, this book displays an astoundingly broad intelligence--that of a man with a panoramic view of the nature of language and an abiding delight in all of its complexities and inconsistencies. This is a book no linguist can afford to be without.
James D. McCawley (1938-1999) was the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and East Asian Languages at the University of Chicago.