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

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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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Roland Bluhm - Corpus Analysis in Philosophy

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Roland Bluhm

Corpus Analysis in Philosophy

1. Introduction

The aim of this paper is to discuss the potential benefit of corpus analysis, a (partly) empirical method from linguistics, for philosophy. ‘Corpus analysis’ is not only the name of the method, but also a rough description of it, because the method consists in analysing data taken from linguistic text corpora. In linguistics, using such text corpora is an established practice. A fair number of them are nowadays freely accessible on the internet, and using them has become relatively easy, even for researchers without linguistic expertise. Surprisingly, corpus analysis has been widely disregarded by philosophers, including those that profess a methodical interest in language—a state of affairs that I believe ought to change.

I shall begin with a short introduction into corpus analysis, followed by a couple of general remarks on why we should, in my view, use corpus analysis in philosophy. I shall briefly introduce examples of the little work that has been done with the help of corpus analysis in philosophy, which I shall contrast with the use of general internet search engines and questionnaires for similar purposes. I shall close with some remarks on the advantages and disadvantages of corpus analysis in philosophy, and some suggestions for directions that further philosophical research with the help of corpus analysis might take.

2. Basics of corpus analysis

In order to introduce corpus analysis, it would...

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