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Evidence, Experiment and Argument in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language


Edited By Martin Hinton

This volume is concerned with issues in experimental philosophy and experimental linguistics. Examining experiments in language from a variety of perspectives, it asks what form they should take and what should count as evidence. There is particular focus on the status of linguistic intuitions and the use of language corpora. A number of papers address issues of methodology in experimental work, while other contributions examine the use of thought experiments and what the hypothetical can tell us about the actual. The aim of this collection is to bring together the work of linguists and philosophers in order that they may learn from one another, and to help both groups understand how the use of experimental methods can affect the arguments they employ and the claims they make.
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Katarzyna Paprzycka - Methodological Reflections on Academic and Experimental Philosophy: The Case of the Omissions Account


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Katarzyna Paprzycka

University of Warsaw

Methodological Reflections on Academic and Experimental Philosophy: The Case of the Omissions Account1

1. The Knobe Effect and Experimental Philosophy

Joshua Knobe (2003a&b) has presented data that are supposed to demonstrate that the folk concept of intentional action differs from the concept of intentional action that academic philosophers work with.

On the standard accounts of intentional action (e.g. Davidson 1980; Goldman 1970; Mele and Moser 1994), a person φs intentionally only if she realizes her intention to φ (or to do something related, cf. Bratman 1987). Philosophers of action disagree about what it means to realize an intention (Anscombe 1963; Davidson 1963 [1980]; Mele 1994; 2003b; von Wright 1971; Sehon 2005; Wilson 1989), but they do tend to agree that the realization of an intention (whether understood as a separate mental state or as a belief-desire pair) is relevant. Such accounts seem to be called into question by the Knobe effect. Knobe presented people with one of two stories about the chairman of a company and asked whether the chairman performed an intentional action. The stories differed from each other in the moral significance of the action. In one of the stories, the chairman harms the environment, while in the other he helps the environment. In neither of the stories does he have an intention to harm or help the environment, rather he intends to increase the profits of his company....

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