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

Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39:105-110 (2008)
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Abstract

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. 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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Author Profiles

Jussi Jylkkä
University of Turku
Jussi Haukioja
Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Citations of this work

On deriving essentialism from the theory of reference.Jussi Haukioja - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2141-2151.
Are natural kind terms special?Åsa Wikforss - 2010 - In Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary (eds.), The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. Routledge.

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