PhilSci Archive

A New Perspective Concerning Experiments on Semantic Intuitions

Sytsma, Justin and Livengood, Jonathan (2010) A New Perspective Concerning Experiments on Semantic Intuitions. [Preprint]

This is the latest version of this item.

[img] PDF

Download (202kB)


In two fascinating articles, Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich [2004, forthcoming] use experimental methods to raise a specter of doubt about reliance on intuitions in developing theories of reference which are then deployed in philosophical arguments outside the philosophy of language. Machery et al. ran a cross-cultural survey asking Western and East Asian participants about a famous case from the philosophical literature on reference (Kripke’s Gödel example). They interpret their results as indicating that there is significant variation in participants’ intuitions about semantic reference for that case. We argue that this interpretation is mistaken. We detail a type of ambiguity found in Machery et al.’s probe but not yet noted in the response literature. We argue that this epistemic ambiguity could have affected their results. We do not stop there, however: Rather than rest content with a possibility claim, we ran four studies to test the impact of this ambiguity on participants’ responses. We found that this accounts for much of the variation in Machery et al.’s original experiment. We conclude that in the light of our new data, their argument is no longer convincing.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Sytsma, Justin
Livengood, Jonathan
Additional Information: Author Posting. (c) Australasian Association of Philosophy, 2010. This is the author's (preprint) version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Australasian Association of Philosophy for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Australasian Journal of Philosophy, January 2010: doi:10.1080/00048401003639832
Keywords: Reference; Semantic Intuitions; Experimental Philosophy; Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich; Kripke; Gödel
Subjects: General Issues > Thought Experiments
Specific Sciences > Psychology/Psychiatry
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Experimentation
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2010
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:19
Item ID: 5130

Available Versions of this Item

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item