[SydPhil] Michael Devitt at UNSW | The reference of proper names: Testing usage and intuitions | 8 April 2019

Heikki Ikaheimo h.ikaheimo at unsw.edu.au
Fri Mar 29 15:06:31 AEDT 2019


The reference of proper names: Testing usage and intuitions.

Hosted by the
School of Humanities & Languages (Philosophy)

Abstract: Experiments on theories of reference have mostly tested referential intuitions. We think that experiments should rather be testing linguistic usage. 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): Machery et al. (2009) claim that truth-value judgment experiments test usage. Martí (2014) disagrees. We argue that Machery et al. are right and offer some results that are consistent with that conclusion. Substantive aim (II): Machery et al. provide evidence that the usage of a name varies, being sometimes descriptive, sometimes not. In seven out of eight tests of usage, we did not replicate this variation. Methodological Aim (II): to test the reliability of referential intuitions by comparing them with linguistic usage. Earlier studies led us to predict that we would find those intuitions unreliable, but we did not. Our results add to evidence that tests of referential intuition are susceptible to unpredictable wording effects.

Bio:  Michael Devitt's primary interests include philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics and epistemology.

Author of books Designation (Columbia University Press, 1981), Coming to Our Senses (Cambridge University Press, 1996), Realism and Truth. (Blackwell, 1984) Prof. Devitt was a student of the famous American empiricist Willard Van Orman Quine at Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D., and has argued his realist position steadily over the years. His Realism and Truth is now in its third printing. In Ignorance of Language (2008) he criticizes Chomskian views of the place of language in the mind. Since his first book, Designation (1981), he has been embroiled in a revolution in the “theory of reference,” a revolution that was instigated by the world-famous philosopher and logician Saul Kripke, who is also a member of the doctoral faculty in philosophy at the Graduate Center.

[A person standing in front of a book shelf  Description automatically generated]

Speaker: Michael Devitt, Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center, CUNY

Event Details:
Monday, 8 April 2019
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Room 310, Morven Brown
Kensington Campus, UNSW

No RSVP required.

Map reference: C20<http://fmtoolbox.unsw.edu.au/comms/KensingtonCampus.pdf>

Contact: Peter Slezak
e: p.slezak at unsw.edu.au<mailto:p.slezak at unsw.edu.au>

UNSW Arts & Social Sciences
UNSW Sydney,
NSW 2052

CRICOS Provider Code 00098G, ABN 57 195 873 179



[Linked In]<https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7071691>

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