Here’s a small addition to the previous post prompted by a discussion with Paul Pietroski. I am always going on about how focusing on recursion in general as the defining property of FL is misleading. The interesting feature of FL is not that it produces (or can produce) recursive Gs but that it produces the kinds of recursive Gs that it does. So the minimalist project is not to explain how recursion arises in humans but how a specific kind of recursion arises in the species. What kind? Well the kind we find in the Gs we find. What kind are these? Well not FSGs nor CFGs, or at least this is what Syntactic Structures (SS) argues.
Let me put this another way: GG has spent the last 60 years establishing that human Gs have a certain kind of recursive structure. In SS, it argued for a transformational grammar arguing that FSGs (which were recursive) were inherently too weak and that PSGs (also recursive) were inadequate empirically. Transformational Gs, SS argued, are the right fit.
So, when people claim that the minimalist problem is to explain the sources of recursion or observe that there may be/is recursion in other parts of cognition thereby claiming to “falsify” the project, it seems to me that they are barking up a red herring (I love the smell of mixed metaphors in the morning!). From where I sit, the problem is explaining how an FL that delivers TGish recursive G arose as this is the kind of FL that we have and the kinds of Gs that it delivers. SS makes clear that “in the earliest days of GG,” not all recursive Gs are created equal and that the FL and Gs of interest have specific properties. It’s the sources for this kind of recursion we want to explain. This is worth bearing in mind when issues of recursion (and its place in minimalist theory) make it to the spotlight.