Folk Semantic Intuitions, Arguments from Reference and Eliminative Materialism

Pinder, Mark (2016). Folk Semantic Intuitions, Arguments from Reference and Eliminative Materialism. In: Hinton, Martin ed. Evidence, Experiment and Argument in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language. Studies in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, pp. 43–64.



In a series of papers, Machery, Mallon, Nichols and Stich critique so-called arguments from reference, arguments that assume a theory of reference in order to establish substantive conclusions. The critique is that, due to cross-cultural variation in semantic intuitions giving rise to methodological problems in the theory of reference, all arguments from reference have an unjustified assumption. I examine an important example of an argument from reference, an argument of Churchland’s in support of eliminative materialism. I suggest that extant responses to the critique are unsatisfactory, and provide an alternative response: one might justify the assumption of a theory of reference in an argument from reference by appealing to an appropriate explication of the relevant commonsense concepts

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