There is a widespread assumption that ordinarylanguage philosophy was killed off sometime in the 1960s or 70s by a combination of Gricean pragmatics and the rapid development of systematic semantic theory. Contrary to that widespread assumption, however, contemporary versions of ordinarylanguage philosophy are alive and flourishing, but going by various aliases—in particular "contextualism" and "experimental philosophy". And a growing group of contemporary philosophers are explicitly embracing the methods as well as the title of (...) class='Hi'>ordinarylanguage philosophy and arguing that it has been unfairly maligned and was never decisively refuted. In this overview, I will outline the main projects and arguments employed by contemporary ordinarylanguage philosophers, and make the case that updated versions of the arguments made by ordinarylanguage philosophers in the middle of the twentieth century are attracting renewed attention. (shrink)
This paper provides new tools for philosophical argument analysis and fresh empirical foundations for ‘critical’ ordinarylanguage philosophy. Language comprehension routinely involves stereotypical inferences with contextual defeaters. J.L. Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia first mooted the idea that contextually inappropriate stereotypical inferences from verbal case-descriptions drive some philosophical paradoxes; these engender philosophical problems that can be resolved by exposing the underlying fallacies. We build on psycholinguistic research on salience effects to explain when and why even perfectly competent speakers (...) cannot help making stereotypical inferences which are contextually inappropriate. We analyse a classical paradox about perception (‘argument from illusion’), suggest it relies on contextually inappropriate stereotypical inferences from appearance-verbs, and show that the conditions we identified as leading to contextually inappropriate stereotypical inferences are met in formulations of the paradox. Three experiments use a forced-choice plausibility-ranking task to document the predicted inappropriate inferences, in English, German, and Japanese. The cross-linguistic study allows us to assess the wider relevance of the proposed analysis. Our findings open up new perspectives for ‘evidential’ experimental philosophy. (shrink)
I present the features of the ordinary use of 'knows' that make a compelling case for the contextualist account of that verb, and I outline and defend the methodology that takes us from the data to a contextualist conclusion. Along the way, the superiority of contextualism over subject-sensitive invariantism is defended, and, in the final section, I answer some objections to contextualism.
I develop a new version of the ordinarylanguage response to skepticism. My version is based on premises about the practical functions served by our epistemic words. I end by exploring how my argument against skepticism is interestingly non-circular and philosophically valuable.
Taking as a point of departure a recently published collection of representative contributions from various philosophers who claim to ?proceed from ordinarylanguage?, this article examines ordinarylanguage philosophy in the light of some of the claims made by these philosophers. The claims are criticized mainly for failing to account for the variability of the use of terms in respect both of depth of intention and special contexts. These factors are such as to render the claims (...) in question false when interpreted as significant assertions about language, but trivial when they are interpreted as reasonable and true. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss Kant's and Bolzano's differing perspectives on ordinary natural language. I argue that Kant does not see ordinarylanguage as providing semantically organized content and that, as a result, Kant does not believe that ordinarylanguage is sufficiently well-developed to support philosophical analysis and definition. By contrast, for Bolzano, the content given in ordinarylanguage are richly structured entities he calls 'propositions in themselves'. This contrast in views is (...) used to explain Bolzano's criticism of Kant's belief that definition is impossible for philosophical concepts. It is also used to explain Bolzano's criticism of Kant's methods of exposition of philosophical concepts. (shrink)
For OrdinaryLanguage philosophy, at issue is the use of the expressions of language, not expressions in and of themselves. So, at issue is not, for example, ordinary versus (say) technical words; nor is it a distinction based on the language used in various areas of discourse, for example academic, technical, scientific, or lay, slang or street discourses – ordinary uses of language occur in all discourses. It is sometimes the case that an (...) expression has distinct uses within distinct discourses, for example, the expression ‘empty space’. This may have both a lay and a scientific use, and both uses may count as ordinary; as long as it is quite clear which discourse is in play, and thus which of the distinct uses of the expression is in play. Though connected, the difference in use of the expression in different discourses signals a difference in the sense with which it is used, on the OrdinaryLanguage view. One use, say the use in physics, in which it refers to a vacuum, is distinct from its lay use, in which it refers rather more flexibly to, say, a room with no objects in it, or an expanse of land with no buildings or trees. However, on this view, one sense of the expression, though more precise than the other, would not do as a replacement of the other term; for the lay use of the term is perfectly adequate for the uses it is put to, and the meaning of the term in physics would not allow speakers to express what they mean in these other contexts. (shrink)
What is philosophy about and what are its methods? _Philosophy and Ordinary Language_ is a defence of the view that philosophy is largely about questions of language, which to a large extent means _ordinary_ language. Some people argue that if philosophy is about ordinarylanguage, then it is necessarily less deep and difficult than it is usually taken to be but Oswald Hanfling shows us that this isn't true. Hanfling, a leading expert in the development (...) of analytic philosophy, covers a wide range of topics, including scepticism and the definition of knowledge, free will, empiricism, folk psychology, ordinary versus artificial logic, and philosophy versus science. Drawing on philosophers such as Austin, Wittgenstein, and Quine, this book explores the nature of ordinarylanguage in philosophy. (shrink)
Among philosophers, there are at least two prevalent views about the core concept of intentional action. View I (Adams 1986, 1997; McCann 1986) holds that an agent S intentionally does an action A only if S intends to do A. View II (Bratman 1987; Harman 1976; and Mele 1992) holds that there are cases where S intentionally does A without intending to do A, as long as doing A is foreseen and S is willing to accept A as a consequence (...) of S’s action. Joshua Knobe (2003a) presents intriguing data that may be taken to support the second view.1 Knobe’s data show an asymmetry in folk judgements. People are more inclined to judge that S did A intentionally, even when not intended, if A was perceived as causing a harm (e.g. harming the environment). There is an asymmetry because people are not inclined to see S’s action as intentional, when not intended, if A is perceived as causing a beneﬁt (e.g. helping the environment). In this paper we will discuss Knobe’s results in detail. We will raise the question of whether his ordinarylanguage surveys of folk judgments have accessed core concepts of intentional action. We suspect that instead Knobe’s surveys are tapping into pragmatic aspects of intentional language and its role in moral praise and blame. We will suggest alternative surveys that we plan to conduct to get at this difference, and we will attempt to explain the pragmatic usage of intentional language. (shrink)
Wittgenstein and Heidegger’s objections against the possibility of an aesthetic science were influential on different sides of the analytic/continental divide. Heidegger’s anti-scientism is tied up with a critique of the reduction of the work of art to an object of aesthetic experience. This leads him to an aletheic view of artworks which precedes and exceeds any possible aesthetic reduction. Wittgenstein too rejects the relevance of causal explanations, psychological or physiological, to aesthetic questions. His appeal to ordinarylanguage provides (...) the backdrop for his critique of the philosophical tradition’s focus on a narrow range of evaluative aesthetic terms, thus excluding most of the language we ordinarily employ in the relevant cases. The main aim of this paper is to compare Heidegger with Wittgenstein, showing that: (a) there are significant parallels to be drawn between Wittgenstein and Heidegger’s anti-scientism about aesthetics, and (b) their anti-scientism leads them towards partly divergent criticisms of what I will call ‘aestheticism’. The divergence is mainly due to a disagreement concerning appeals to ordinarylanguage. Thus situating the two philosophers’ positions facilitates a possible critical dialogue between analytic and continental approaches in aesthetics. (shrink)
This paper examines popular‘conventionalist’explanations of why philosophers need not back up their claims about how‘we’use our words with empirical studies of actual usage. It argues that such explanations are incompatible with a number of currently popular and plausible assumptions about language's ‘social’character. Alternate explanations of the philosopher's purported entitlement to make a priori claims about‘our’usage are then suggested. While these alternate explanations would, unlike the conventionalist ones, be compatible with the more social picture of language, they are each (...) shown to face serious problems of their own. (shrink)
The basic conflict: an initial characterization -- The main arguments against ordinarylanguage philosophy -- Must philosophers rely on intuitions? -- Contextualism and the burden of knowledge -- Contextualism, anti-contextualism, and knowing as being in a position to give assurance -- Conclusion: skepticism and the dialectic of (semantically pure) "knowledge" -- Epilogue: ordinarylanguage philosophy, Kant, and the roots of antinomial thinking.
Amie Thomasson and Eli Hirsch have both attempted to deflate metaphysics, by combining Carnapian ideas with an appeal to ordinarylanguage. My main aim in this paper is to critique such deflationary appeals to ordinarylanguage. Focussing on Thomasson, I draw two very general conclusions. First: ordinarylanguage is a wildly complicated phenomenon. Its implicit ontological commitments can only be tackled by invoking a context principle; but this will mean that ordinarylanguage (...) ontology is not a trivial enterprise. Second: ordinarylanguage often points in different directions simultaneously, so that a wide variety of existence questions cannot be deflated merely by appealing to ordinarylanguage. (shrink)
J.L. Austin is regarded as having an especially acute ear for fine distinctions of meaning overlooked by other philosophers. Austin employs an informal experimental approach to gathering evidence in support of these fine distinctions in meaning, an approach that has become a standard technique for investigating meaning in both philosophy and linguistics. In this paper, we subject Austin's methods to formal experimental investigation. His methods produce mixed results: We find support for his most famous distinction, drawn on the basis of (...) his `donkey stories', that `mistake' and `accident' apply to different cases, but not for some of his other attempts to distinguish the meaning of philosophically significant terms. We critically examine the methodology of informal experiments employed in ordinarylanguage philosophy and much of contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics, and discuss the role that experimenter bias can play in influencing judgments about informal and formal linguistic experiments. (shrink)
Frege, we are told, believes that vague predicates have no referent (Bedeutung). But given other things he evidently believes, such a position would seem to commit him to a suspect nihilism according to which assertoric sentences containing vague predicates are neither true nor false. I argue that we have good reason to resist ascribing to Frege the view that vague predicates have no Bedeutung and thus good reason to resist seeing him as committed to the suspect nihilism. In the process, (...) I call attention to several under-appreciated texts in which Frege suggests that a vague predicate, though lacking a Bedeutung of its own, can come to acquire a Bedeutung in certain contexts. The upshot of this suggestion is that vague predicates can serve the purposes of ordinary communication quite well, even if they are useless for logical purposes. (shrink)
This paper explores some lines of argument in wittgenstein's post-Tractatus writings in order to indicate the relations between wittgenstein's philosophical psychology, On the one hand, And his philosophy of language, His epistemology, And his doctrines about the nature of philosophical analysis on the other. The authors maintain that the later writings of wittgenstein express a coherent doctrine in which an operationalistic analysis of confirmation and language supports a philosophical psychology of a type the authors call "logical behaviorism." they (...) also maintain that there are good grounds for rejecting the philosophical theory implicit in wittgenstein's later works. In particular, They first argue that wittgenstein's position leads to some implausible conclusions concerning the nature of language and psychology; second, They maintain that the arguments wittgenstein provides are inconclusive; and third, They sketch an alternative position which they believe avoids many of the difficulties implicit in wittgenstein's philosophy. (shrink)
There has been a long-standing dispute in the philosophical literature about the conditions under which a behavior counts as 'intentional.' Much of the debate turns on questions about the use of certain words and phrases in ordinarylanguage. The present paper investigates these questions empirically, using experimental techniques to investigate people's use of the relevant words and phrases. g.
The ‘OrdinaryLanguage’ philosophy of the early 20th century is widely thought to have failed. It is identified with the broader so-called ‘linguistic turn’, a common criticism of which is captured by Devitt and Sterelny (1999), who quip: “When the naturalistic philosopher points his finger at reality, the linguistic philosopher discusses the finger.” (p 280) The implication is that according to ‘linguistic’ philosophy, we are not to study reality or truth or morality etc, but the meaning of the (...) words ‘reality’, ‘truth’, ‘morality’ etc. OrdinaryLanguage philosophy has fallen so thoroughly into disrepute because it is supposed to advocate that not only are we to study words and meanings rather than the phenomena themselves (which is apparently bad enough), but we must restrict that study to words and meanings as they occur in the language used by the ordinary speaker. A number of preposterous corollaries have been taken to follow from this view. Most seriously, perhaps, and irritatingly, is that any theory which contains ‘non-ordinary’ uses of expressions is thereby ‘meaningless’ or simply false – which is clearly absurd. In this paper I show that this is a completely inaccurate picture of OrdinaryLanguage philosophy. My aim is to correct these persistent misinterpretations, and make possible a more sensible reassessment of the philosophy. (shrink)
Drawing on J. L. Austin and the later works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, she argues for the solution provided by ordinarylanguage philosophy—a philosophy that trusts and utilizes the everyday use of language and the clarity of meaning it ...
It is argued that the only response to the mereological objections of the ordinarylanguage philosopher available to the scientistic philosopher of mind requires the adoption of the view that ordinary psychological talk is theoretical and falsified by the findings of brain science. The availability of this sort of response produces a kind of stalemate between these opposed views and viewpoints: the claim that attribution of psychological predicates to parts of organisms is nonsense is met with the (...) claim that it is only nonsensical if our ordinary ways of talking are – naively – taken to be sacrosanct. The aim of the paper is to show that the ordinarylanguage philosopher has a reply here that the scientistic philosopher is not in a position to ignore. Namely, that the only way to resist mereological objections is to adopt conceptions of personhood that are inimical to naturalistic accounts of mentality. (shrink)
The goal of tranquility through non-Assertion, Advocated by sextus empiricus, Is examined and his method criticized. His understanding of non-Assertion is compared with that of seng-Chao (383-414) and chi-Tsang (549-623). Zen buddhism shares the quest for tranquility, But offers more than sextus did to help us attain it, And avoids the excessively metaphysical thought of these two chinese buddhists. Wittgenstein, Whose goal was that philosophical problems completely disappear, And austin, Who rejected many standard western dichotomies, Offer a method superior to (...) that of sextus, Or to that of chi-Tsang and seng-Chao, But an ideal short of the tranquility sought by all the rest. The thought that zen buddhism and ordinarylanguage philosophy may be looking in the same direction is supported by appealing to john canfield's article "wittgenstein and zen" and his analysis of "understanding without thought.". (shrink)
This paper defends a challenge, inspired by arguments drawn from contemporary ordinarylanguage philosophy and grounded in experimental data, to certain forms of standard philosophical practice. There has been a resurgence of philosophers who describe themselves as practicing "ordinarylanguage philosophy". The resurgence can be divided into constructive and critical approaches. The critical approach to neo-ordinarylanguage philosophy has been forcefully developed by Baz (2012a,b, 2014, 2015, 2016, forthcoming), who attempts to show that a (...) substantial chunk of contemporary philosophy is fundamentally misguided. I describe Baz's project and argue that while there is reason to be skeptical of its radical conclusion, it conveys an important truth about discontinuities between ordinary uses of philosophically significant expressions ("know", e.g.) and their use in philosophical thought experiments. I discuss some evidence from experimental psychology and behavioral economics indicating that there is a risk of overlooking important aspects of meaning or misinterpreting experimental results by focusing only on abstract experimental scenarios, rather than employing more diverse and more ecologically valid experimental designs. I conclude by presenting a revised version of the critical argument from ordinarylanguage. (shrink)
This paper examines the account of ordinarylanguage semantics developed by Franz Brentano and his pupil Anton Marty. Long before the interest in ordinarylanguage in the analytic tradition, Brentanian philosophers were exploring our everyday use of words, as opposed to the scientific use of language. Brentano and Marty were especially interested in the semantics of (common) names in ordinarylanguage. They claimed that these names are vague, and that this is due to (...) the structure of the concepts that constitute their meaning: concepts expressed by such names are themselves vague, based on typicality, and have more or less similar items within their extension. After presenting the views of Brentano and Marty, this paper compares them to later accounts of meaning and concepts, notably Wittgenstein’s theory of family resemblances and the prototype theory of concepts, and emphasizes the originality of the Brentanian position. (shrink)
Over two decades ago a "quite revolution" overwhelmingly replaced knowledgebased approaches in natural language processing (NLP) by quantitative (e.g., statistical, corpus-based, machine learning) methods. Although it is our firm belief that purely quantitative approaches cannot be the only paradigm for NLP, dissatisfaction with purely engineering approaches to the construction of large knowledge bases for NLP are somewhat justified. In this paper we hope to demonstrate that both trends are partly misguided and that the time has come to enrich logical (...) semantics with an ontological structure that reflects our commonsense view of the world and the way we talk about in ordinarylanguage. In this paper it will be demonstrated that assuming such an ontological structure a number of challenges in the semantics of natural language (e.g., metonymy, intensionality, copredication, nominal compounds, etc.) can be properly and uniformly addressed. (shrink)
The business of philosophical analysis is clarification, But explicators and ordinary-Language philosophers disagree about how to achieve it. Their mutual criticisms or attempts at arbitration are made at such a level of generality as to leave the basis for dispute or settlement obscure. By focusing on supposedly competing analyses of truth--Tarski's semantical and strawson's performative conceptions of truth--The paper makes clarification itself the subject of clarification in an attempt to determine the basis of dispute.
Many contextualist accounts in epistemology appeal to ordinarylanguage and everyday practice as grounds for positing a low-standards knowledge (knowledgeL) that contrasts with high-standards prevalent in epistemology (knowledgeH). We compare these arguments to arguments from the height of “ordinarylanguage” philosophy in the mid 20th century and find that all such arguments face great difficulties. We find a powerful argument for the legitimacy and necessity of knowledgeL (but not of knowledgeH). These appeals to practice leave us (...) with reasons to accept knowledgeL in the face of radical doubts raised by skeptics. We conclude by arguing that by relegating knowledgeH to isolated contexts, the contextualist fails to deal with the skeptical challenge head-on. KnowledgeH and knowledgeL represent competing, incompatible intuitions about knowledge, and we must choose between them. A fallibilist conception of knowledge, formed with proper attention to radical doubts, can address the skeptical challenge without illicit appeal to everyday usage. (shrink)
Recent theories of epistemic contextualism have challenged traditional invariantist positions in epistemology by claiming that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions fluctuate between conversational contexts. Contextualists often garner support for this view by appealing to folk intuitions regarding ordinary knowledge practices. Proposed is an experiment designed to test the descriptive conditions upon which these types of contextualist defenses rely. In the cases tested, the folk pattern of knowledge attribution runs contrary to what contextualism predicts. While preliminary, these data inspire (...) prima facie skepticism for the contextualist hypothesis regarding folk knowledge claims, as well as challenge certain predictions made by recent theories of subject-sensitive invariantism. It is further argued that such results raise methodological questions concerning the practice of relying on an assumption of intuitions, with respect to ordinarylanguage practices, as evidence for philosophical conclusions regarding knowledge. (shrink)
It is widely acknowledged that the link between quantum language and ordinarylanguage must be "fuzzier" than the traditional eigenstate-eigenvalue link. In the context of spontaneous-collapse theories, Albert and Loewer argue that the form of this fuzzy link is a matter of convention, and can be freely chosen to minimize anomalies for those theories. I defend the position that the form of the link is empirical, and could be such as to render collapse theories idle. This means (...) that defenders of spontaneous-collapse theories must gamble that the actual form of the link renders such theories tenable. (shrink)
What does ordinarylanguage philosophy contribute to the solution of the problems it diagnoses as violations of linguistic use? One of its biggest challenges has been to account for the epistemic asymmetry of mental states experienced by the subject of those states and the application of psychological properties to others. The epistemology of other minds appears far from resolved with reference to how sensation words are used in everyday language. In this paper, I revisit the Wittgensteinian arguments (...) and show how they engage the ordinarylanguage method (in the modified form of grammatical investigation) to ‘dissolve’ the problem. Several important results are generated by way of this reconstruction. An expressive view of the vocabulary of sensation is defended which facilitates a discussion of sensation discourse emphasising the normative grammatical conditions for the communication of psychological states. This motivates a reassessment of criterial justification for the ascription of psychological concepts in the third person. In the final sections, I mobilise a normative approach to expose the moral relevance of the epistemology of other minds. Even if it is conceded that belief in other minds lacks warrant from an epistemological standpoint, this does not justify adopting the skeptical attitude from an ethical standpoint. In light of this, a normative justification for the a priori belief that others are subjects of consciousness is defended. (shrink)
The paper builds on a methodological idea from experimental philosophy and on findings from psycholinguistics, to develop and defend ordinarylanguage analysis (OLA) as practiced in J.L. Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia. That attack on sense-datum theories of perception focuses on the argument from illusion. Through a case-study on this paradoxical argument, the present paper argues for a form of OLA which is psychologically informed, seeks to expose epistemic, rather than semantic, defects in paradoxical arguments, and is immune to (...) the main objections to ordinarylanguage philosophising, including those arising from the semantic/pragmatics distinction: A key project in current experimental philosophy is to develop psychological explanations of philosophically relevant intuitions that help us determine what warrant thinkers have for accepting them. Psycholinguistic work on the role of stereotypes in verb-comprehension has shown that intuitive judgments can be generated by automatic cognitive processes that duplicate both semantic and pragmatic inferences and are shaped by dominant uses of words. For systematic reasons, philosophers are prone to unwittingly deviate from such dominant uses. Where this happens, they are liable to automatically infer unwarranted conclusions that strike them as intuitively compelling. OLA helps us to determine those dominant uses, to identify unwitting deviations from them, and thus to expose unwarranted intuitions – e.g., in the premises of paradoxical arguments. Ordinarylanguage does not determine the bounds of sense but shapes our leaps of thought. The paper shows how this enables its ‘Austinian’ analysis to contribute to a novel, epistemic, resolution of philosophical paradoxes and problems. (shrink)
The construction and analysis of arguments supposedly are a philosopher's main business, the demonstration of truth or refutation of falsehood his principal aim. In Sense and Sensibilia, J.L. Austin does something entirely different: He discusses the sense-datum doctrine of perception, with the aim not of refuting it but of 'dissolving' the 'philosophical worry' it induces in its champions. To this end, he 'exposes' their 'concealed motives', without addressing their stated reasons. The paper explains where and why this at first sight (...) outrageous aim and approach are perfectly sensible, how exactly Austin proceeds, and how his approach can be taken further. This shows Austin to be a pioneer of the currently much discussed notion of philosophy as therapy, reveals a subtle and unfamiliar use of linguistic analysis that is not open to the standard objections to ordinarylanguage philosophy, and yields a novel and forceful treatment of the sense-datum doctrine. (shrink)