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Semantics, cross-cultural style

Machery, E and Mallon, R and Nichols, S and Stich, SP (2004) Semantics, cross-cultural style. Cognition, 92 (3). ISSN 0010-0277

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Abstract

Theories of reference have been central to analytic philosophy, and two views, the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference, have dominated the field. In this research tradition, theories of reference are assessed by consulting one's intuitions about the reference of terms in hypothetical situations. However, recent work in cultural psychology (e.g. Nisbett, R. E., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and systems of thought: holistic vs. analytic cognition. Psychological Review, 108, 291-310.) has shown systematic cognitive differences between East Asians and Westerners, and some work indicates that this extends to intuitions about philosophical cases (Weinberg, J., Nichols, S., & Stich, S. (2001). Normativity and epistemic intuitions. Philosophical Topics 29(1&2), 429-459.) In light of these findings on cultural differences, an experiment was conducted which explored intuitions about reference in Westerners and East Asians. The experiment indicated that, for certain central cases, Westerners are more likely than East Asians to report intuitions that are consistent with the causal-historical view. These results constitute prima facie evidence that semantic intuitions vary from culture to culture, and the paper argues that this fact raises questions about the nature of the philosophical enterprise of developing a theory of reference. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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Details

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Machery, Emachery@pitt.eduMACHERY
Mallon, R
Nichols, S
Stich, SP
Date: 1 January 2004
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Cognition
Volume: 92
Number: 3
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1016/j.cognition.2003.10.003
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0010-0277
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2013 20:14
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 15:59
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17461

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