Psychological essentialism and semantic externalism Evidence for externalism in lay speakers' language use

Some experimental studies have recently claimed to undermine semantic externalism about natural kind terms. However, it is unclear how philosophical accounts of reference can be experimentally tested. We present two externalistic adaptations of psychological placeholder essentialism, a strict externalist and a hybrid externalist view, which are experimentally testable. We examine Braisby’s et al. (1996) study which claims to undermine externalism, and argue that the study fails in its aims. We conducted two experiments, the results of which undermine internalism and the hybrid theory, and support strict externalism. Ourconclusion is that lay speakers’ natural kind concepts involve a belief in an external category essence, which determines reference.
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DOI 10.1080/09515080802703687
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References found in this work BETA
Saul Kripke (2010). Naming and Necessity. In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge 431-433.

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Citations of this work BETA
Stephen Law (forthcoming). Natural Kinds of Substance. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-18.
Kevin Lynch (2012). A Multiple Realization Thesis for Natural Kinds. European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):389-406.

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