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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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Martin Hinton - Introduction


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The line distinguishing Linguistics from the Philosophy of Language is a difficult one to draw, and far too porous to be considered a solid border. While the background and approach may vary at times, the subject matter: language, and the raw material of research: sounds, words, utterances, and sentences, are the same. Indeed, as the papers in this volume make clear, philosophers are increasingly looking to actual uses of language as an aid in their deliberations, and, in this way, moving closer to the methodologies of the linguists. That is one of the key assumptions of this whole series: that linguists and philosophers of language, sharing a medium of study, have many common interests and, crucially, much to learn from each other.

This volume focuses on the area where there is, perhaps, the smallest difference of all between the two disciplines, that of experimentation. The papers contained herein approach the theme from different perspectives; some are theoretical discussions of what experimentation should look like; others examine what should be counted as evidence, with particular attention paid to the debate over the value of linguistic intuitions; still others are examples of the employment of experimental techniques in examining areas of linguistic and philosophical curiosity, the conclusions of which may illustrate the relevance or otherwise of such methods.

For my own part, I take particular interest in how the use of experiment and the acceptance of some or other phenomenon as valid...

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