[SydPhil] Michael Devitt, Friday 4 May: UNSW philosophy seminar

Melissa Merritt m.merritt at unsw.edu.au
Fri Mar 28 13:52:23 AEDT 2014

UNSW Philosophy Seminar Series Talk
Friday, 4 May
Morven Brown Building 310
light lunch provided

Michael Devitt
"Testing Theories of Reference"

Abstract: How should we test theories of reference? The received view is that we should test them against referential intuitions. How could this be acceptable? We should not go along with the common philosophical view that these intuitions are a priori. Philosophers might follow linguists in thinking that linguistic intuitions are “the voice” of our linguistic competence. But this view is false. Rather than relying solely on the indirect evidence of intuitions, theories of reference need direct evidence from linguistic usage. The method of elicited production seems a promising way to gather this evidence. But this turns out to be more difficult than one might expect, as a recent experiment revealed. The paper briefly explores the main problem, that of implicit scare quotes.

Michael Devitt is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.  He has published widely in metaphysics, philosophy of language, and epistemology.  His many books include, most recently, Putting Metaphysics First (Oxford University Press, 2010) and Ignorance of Language (2006).
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