Testing intuitions about reference: what conclusions should be drawn from the experimental data?



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Tartu Ülikool


In this thesis I am going to argue against the interpretation that experimental philosophers offered as an account of their empirical findings concerning philosophical intuitions about reference. Their empirical findings seem to exhibit that philosophers’ and folk intuitions are sensitive to various factors and that these sensitivities cause diversity in the intuitive responses within and between different people and cultures (Machery, Stich, Mallon, Nichols 2004). It has been noticed that Western people are more likely to show intuitive responses that can be associated with a causal-historical view of reference, while East Asians are inclined to show intuitive responses which are associated with a descriptivist view of reference. The experimental philosophers argue that if there is such diversity in intuitions we cannot be sure that our intuitions provide us with reliable data that is needed for theory choice in philosophy of language. This means that our intuitions cannot serve as a foundation for theories of reference.



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