[SydPhil] Notification: Michael Devitt @ Thu 6 Apr 2017 15:00 - 16:30 (Current Projects)

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Wed Apr 5 14:59:47 AEST 2017

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Title: Michael Devitt
Michael Devitt and Nicolas Porot

Experiments on theories of reference have mostly tested referential  
intuitions. We think that experiments should rather be testing linguistic  
usage. This paper has four aims. Substantive Aim (I): to test classical  
description theories of proper names against usage by “elicited  
production”. Our results count decisively against those theories.  
Methodological Aim (I): In response to Martí (2009), Machery et al. (2009)  
conducted a truth-value judgment test that they claimed tested usage. Martí  
(2014) disagreed. We aim to investigate this issue. We argue that Machery  
et al. are right and offer some experimental support for that conclusion.  
Substantive aim (II): Machery et al. provided evidence that the usage of a  
name varied, being sometimes descriptive, sometimes not. That would be a  
damaging discovery for the theory of reference. So our aim was to test  
usage to see if we replicated this variation. In seven out of eight  
experiments we did not. Methodological Aim (II): to test the reliability of  
the folk’s referential intuitions by comparing them with the results of our  
tests of usage. Past tests led us to predict that we would find those  
intuitions unreliable. Surprisingly, that is not what we found. Our results  
suggest that tests of referential intuition are susceptible to  
unpredictable wording effects, casting doubt on them as effective ways to  
test theories of reference.

When: Thu 6 Apr 2017 15:00 – 16:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: The Muniment Room, Main Qad
Calendar: Current Projects
     * Kristie Miller- creator

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