About Barbara Scholz

Barbara Caroline Scholz was the most interesting person I ever knew. She was my most valuable scholarly collaborator, and I had the good fortune to be married to her from 22 July 1994 until her unexpected death on 14 May 2011. A proper obituary for her will appear this November in the Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, and you can see it if you follow this link. This page has just a few personal observations together with her full publications list.

On 31 December 2010, Barbara learned that she had terminal cancer. She faced the prospect of death with extraordinary courage and grace, never once showing signs of denial or anger or bitterness. She paid more attention to the needs and feelings of those she had to tell than to herself.

Through the early months of 2011, Barbara and I believed that although she was ill we could look forward to perhaps as much as a year of living happily together, and doing more of the joint research work that was her greatest pleasure. But there was a sudden crisis and she died very quickly on Saturday afternoon, May 14th, when luckily I happened to be by her side.

Barbara was an atheist and philosophical naturalist. As she saw things, there was no religious or spiritual aspect to the biological endpoint of her life. It was her wish that her remains should be cremated without a funeral ceremony, and I respected that wish. We had no chance to make any other arrangements, but she had once said to me that the one charity she felt really deserved our support was Maggie's Centre, an organization that provides an advocacy and advice service for cancer sufferers. The Edinburgh branch helped her in some small but significant ways. I mentioned this to some colleagues and friends who knew her, and well over $3,000 in total has now been donated to Maggie's Centre in Barbara's memory. I know that would have made her happy, and I sincerely thank the people who made gifts.

Barbara and I were introduced by Arnold Zwicky on 31 March 1991. Arnold tells the story his way in this post on his blog. As he makes clear, our initial connection was a purely intellectual friendship between a philosopher seriously interested in the philosophy of linguistics and a linguist with an interest in philosophy. Eventually our friendship became personal and romantic, and eventually our romance became domestic and ultimately marital, and eventually our marriage became the most deep and satisfying relationship of my life.

When Arnold introduced me to Barbara in Palo Alto, she was on a short visit to California, but her teaching job at the time was at the University of Toledo. She was assistant professor of philosophy there from 1989 to 1993. We taught a philosophy of linguistics seminar together at the Linguistic Institute at The Ohio State University in the summer of 1993, and after that she decided to take some time away from Toledo and try living in Santa Cruz, California, for a year. Our relationship deepened during that year, and she never went back. We married in the summer of 1994.

Barbara's complex intellect and deep love of learning led her to study for a total of five degrees, all of which she completed: a BA in philosophy and religion from Urbana College; an MDiv in hermeneutical theory from Andover Theological School; an MSc in cognitive science from the University of Edinburgh; and the MA and PhD in philosophy from The Ohio State University. Her conversation reflected all of them: her rich intellectual life embraced philosophy and theology and linguistics and the cognitive and psychological sciences, and many other subjects besides. We talked together at length most days over the twenty years that followed our first meeting, and I do not recall a single minute when the conversation was other than fascinating and surprising and stimulating.

We moved to Edinburgh in 2007 and lived there until her death. She was enormously happy in this beautiful city, and gloried in its vibrant interdisciplinary community of linguistic and psychological scientists. It was the ideal milieu for an interdisciplinarily oriented mind like hers: a School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences adjacent to a School of Informatics also strongly oriented toward the study of language and cognition. (The School of Informatics is the heir to the Cognitive Science program where she had earned the M.Sc. in the 1980s.)

Barbara's work was mostly in the philosophy of the cognitive and linguistic sciences, though there were publications in other areas too (an interesting paper in aesthetics, for example, applying the logical technique known as Ramsification to the definition of art). She loved collaborating on papers — collaboration was something she really valued in the same way as friendship — and her interests embraced linguistics and psychology just as much as traditional philosophical topics. When she and I collaborated we used "Pullum and Scholz" as the byline if the contributions were roughly equal or the linguistics predominated, but "Scholz and Pullum" when it was mainly philosophy or when she was definitely the lead author. On some of the Scholz-and-Pullum works I was really little more than a discussant and secretary.

I list her published works below in chronological order (omitting her Ohio State doctoral dissertation Kripke's Wittgensteinian Paradox, which is in fact obtainable from University Microfilms but which she regarded as an imperfect document and deliberately did not publish as a book).

It says a lot about Barbara just to look at the names of the ten journals in which she published: Behavioral and Brain Sciences; Cognition; Croatian Journal of Philosophy; Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism; Journal of Child Language; Journal of Linguistics; Language; Nature; Teaching Philosophy; The Linguistic Review. It is quite likely that no one else in the world has published in all of those. But art, cognition, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, science, and education were all topics she had a serious interest in. She relished variety, and was passionately committed to the idea of interdisciplinarity.

Her interdisciplinary interests are especially clear in the posthumous item added at the end, the lengthy Philosophy of Linguistics entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which Jeff Pelletier and I co-authored, but of which she was very definitely the lead author. She pushed hard to get the revisions done after the refereeing stage, working intensively on the article during April 2011. As it turned out, the final version was completed and delivered to the editors only a couple of weeks before her death. There is more posthumous work to come (subject to the assent of referees and editors, of course).

Publications of Barbara C. Scholz (to 2011)

1. Scholz, Barbara C. (1990)
Kriptenstein's skeptical paradox and Chomsky's reply. Working Papers in Linguistics, ed. by Gina Lee and Wayne Cowart (Columbus, Ohio: Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University) 38 (1990), 38--53.

2. Scholz, Barbara C. (1993)
Review article on Gender Basics: Feminist Perspectives on Women and Men, ed. by Anne Minas, and Feminist Philosophies: Problems, Theories, and Applications, ed. by Janet A. Kourany and James A. Sterba. Teaching Philosophy 16 (1993), 360--363.

3. Scholz, Barbara C. (1994)
Rescuing the institutional theory of art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52 (1994), 309--325.

4. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (1995)
Review of Rudolph P. Botha, Twentieth Century Conceptions of Language: Mastering the Metaphysics Market. Language 71, 157--160.

5. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (1997)
Theoretical linguistics and the ontology of linguistic structure. SKY 1997: Suomen kielitieteelisen yhdistyksen vuosikirja 1997 (1997 Yearbook of the Linguistic Association of Finland), 25--47. Turku, Finland: Suomen kielitieteelinen yhdistys (Linguistic Association of Finland).

6. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (2001)
On the distinction between generative-enumerative and model-theoretic syntactic frameworks. In Logical Aspects of Computational Linguistics: 4th International Conference (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 2099), ed.~by Philippe de Groote, Glyn Morrill, and Christian Retoré, 17--43. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

7. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (2001)
Language: More than words. (Commissioned article in the `Concepts' series.) Nature 413 (September 27, 2001), p.~367.

8. Scholz, Barbara C. (2002)
Innateness. (Commissioned article in the `Words' series.) Nature 415, 14 February 2002, 739.

9. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (2002)
Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments. (Lead article in a special double issue on linguistic nativism.) The Linguistic Review 19, nos. 1--2, 9--50.

10. Scholz, Barbara C. and Geoffrey K. Pullum (2002)
Searching for an argument for linguistic nativism. (A reply to six critical commentary articles on `Empirical assessment of stimulus poverty arguments'.) The Linguistic Review 19, nos. 1--2, 185--224.

11. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (2003)
Linguistic models. [Geoffrey K. Pullum and Barbara C. Scholz.] Chapter~5 of Mind, Brain, and Language: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, ed. by Marie T. Banich and Molly Mack, 113--141. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

12. Scholz, Barbara C. (2003)
Philosophy of linguistics. Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Volume 3, 593--597. London: Macmillan Reference/Nature Publishing Group.

13. Akhtar, Nameera; Maureen Callanan; Geoffrey K. Pullum; and Barbara C. Scholz (2004)
Learning antecedents for anaphoric one. Cognition 93, 141--145.

14. Scholz, Barbara C. (2004)
Gold's theorems and the logical problem of language acquisition. Journal of Child Language 31, 959--961.

15. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (2005)
Contrasting applications of logic in natural language syntactic description. In Petr Hájek, Luis Valdés-Villanueva, and Dag Westerstahl (eds.), Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science 2003: Proceedings of the 12th International Congress, 475--496. London: KCL Publications, 2005.

16. Scholz, Barbara C. and Geoffrey K. Pullum (2006)
Irrational nativist exuberance. In Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science, edited by Robert J. Stainton, 59--80. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2006.

17. Scholz, Barbara C. and Geoffrey K. Pullum (2007)
Tracking the origins of transformational generative grammar. (Review article on Marcus Tomalin, Linguistics and the Formal Sciences.) Journal of Linguistics 43(3), 701-723.

18. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (2008)
Systematicity and natural language syntax. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 7 (no. 21), 375-402.

19. Geoffrey K. Pullum and Barbara C. Scholz (2009)
For universals (but not for finite-state learning) visit the zoo. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (5), 466-467.

20. Pullum, Geoffrey K. and Barbara C. Scholz (2010)
Recursion and the infinitude claim. In Harry van der Hulst (ed.), Recursion in Human Language (Studies in Generative Grammar 104), 113-138. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Posthumously published:

21. Scholz, Barbara C.; Francis Jeffry Pelletier; and Geoffrey K. Pullum (2011)
Philosophy of linguistics. In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Linguistics (http://plato.stanford.edu/), Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University. Winter 2011 edition (December 21). URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/linguistics/

Last edited by GKP, Friday, 18 November 2011, 9:32:45