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The Proper Province of Philosophy: Conceptual Analysis and Empirical Investigation

Sytsma, Justin (2009) The Proper Province of Philosophy: Conceptual Analysis and Empirical Investigation. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    The practice of conceptual analysis has undergone a revival in recent years. Although the extent of its role in philosophy is controversial, many now accept that conceptual analysis has at least some role to play. Granting this, I consider the relevance of empirical investigation to conceptual analysis. I do so by contrasting an extreme position (anti-empirical conceptual analysis) with a more moderate position (non-empirical conceptual analysis). I argue that anti-empirical conceptual analysis is not a viable position because it has no means for resolving conceptual disputes that arise between seemingly competent speakers of the language. This is illustrated by considering one such dispute that has been pressed by a prominent advocate of anti-empirical conceptual analysis: Bennett and Hacker (2003) assert that psychological predicates only logically apply to whole living animals, but many scientists and philosophers use the terms more broadly. I argue that to resolve such disputes we need to empirically investigate the common understanding of the terms at issue. I then show how this can be done by presenting the results of three studies concerning the application of “calculates” to computers.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: To appear in Review of Philosophy and Psychology.
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
    General Issues > Experimentation
    Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
    Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2009
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:18
    Item ID: 4806
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4806

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