Experimental Semantics in Philosophy

May 30, 2024 - May 31, 2024
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology



Utrecht University
CUNY Graduate Center
Shanghai JiaoTong University
University of Pittsburgh
ICREA And University Of Barcelona


Norwegian University of Science and Technology

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Workshop on Experimental Semantics in Philosophy:

Trondheim, Norway.

May 30-31, 2024.

Organized by EXLANG, the Research Group for Experimental Philosophy of Language at NTNU Trondheim.

Local organizers:

Jussi Haukioja, NTNU Trondheim, [email protected]

Jeske Toorman, NTNU Trondheim, [email protected]

Invited speakers:

Daniel Cohnitz (Utrecht University)

Michael Devitt (CUNY)

Jincai Li (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

Edouard Machery (University of Pittsburgh)

Genoveva Martí (University of Barcelona)


Since the publication of Machery et al.’s “Semantics, Cross-Cultural Style” (2004), experimental methods have gained more and more foothold in philosophy of language. Different theorists have had very different aims in conducting experimental work: Machery et al. aimed to undermine the widespread reliance on intuitions about fictional cases as evidence in philosophy of language, while more recently, many philosophers of language have started to appeal to experimental data on ordinary speakers’ usage and judgments about meaning and reference as evidence for and against philosophical theories. Despite this divergence in aims, there is quite broad agreement among philosophers of language that experimental work can at least in principle be of relevance for philosophy of language. Most theorists agree that the facts that theories in philosophy of language attempt to get right – for example, the facts about reference or meaning – are intimately connected to how language is in fact used. This makes experimental work potentially relevant to philosophy of language, in a much more direct way than in other areas of philosophy.

At the same time, experimental philosophy of language is in many ways in its infancy, not least methodologically. There is no general consensus regarding what kinds of experimental design are best fit for investigating reference, meaning, and other linguistic phenomena of interest to philosophers. Developing valid experimental designs requires first-order philosophical work on the foundations of reference, meaning, and other linguistic phenomena.

This workshop will bring together both established names in experimental philosophy of language and more junior researchers, and the contributions will include both papers presenting new experimental data, and papers with a more methodological and metaphilosophical focus, clarifying the relevance – or lack thereof – of experimental work in general as well as the results from particular types of experimental setups, for philosophy of language.

Call for Abstracts:

In addition to the invited speakers, we will have space for 2-4 contributed papers on the programme. Submissions should include both a short abstract (max 200 words) and an extended abstract (max 1000 words). Please anonymize both the short and the extended abstract, include them in a single pdf document, and send the document as an attachment to an email with subject “Submission to Experimental Semantics Workshop”, to Jeske Toorman ([email protected]) by February 29. Please provide author and affiliation information in the body of the email.

The authors of accepted papers will also be encouraged to submit their manuscripts to a Thematic Symposium on Experimental semantics in philosophy, in Philosophical Studies, edited by the workshop organizers.

Important dates:

Deadline for submissions: February 29

Notification of acceptance: March 15

If you would like to attend the workshop without presenting anything, please notify us in advance before May 1, due to limited space. All inquiries about the workshop should be sent by email to Jeske Toorman: [email protected].

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May 1, 2024, 12:00am CET

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