Reference in the Land of the Rising Sun: A Cross-cultural Study on the Reference of Proper Names

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Review of Philosophy and Psychology, ISSN: 1878-5158, Vol: 6, Issue: 2, Page: 213-230

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Sytsma, Justin; Livengood, Jonathan; Sato, Ryoji; Oguchi, Mineki
Springer Nature
Arts and Humanities; Psychology
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A standard methodology in philosophy of language is to use intuitions as evidence. Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich (2004) challenged this methodology with respect to theories of reference by presenting empirical evidence that intuitions about one prominent example from the literature on the reference of proper names (Kripke’s Gödel case) vary between Westerners and East Asians. In response, Sytsma and Livengood (2011) conducted experiments to show that the questions Machery and colleagues asked participants in their study were ambiguous, and that this ambiguity affected the responses given by Westerners. Sytsma and Livengood took their results to cast doubt on the claim that the current evidence indicates that there is cross-cultural variation in intuitions about the Gödel case. In this paper we report on a new cross-cultural study showing that variation in intuitions remains even after controlling for the ambiguity noted by Sytsma and Livengood.