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Workshop “Empirical Methods of Linguistics in Philosophy”

Empirical Methods of Linguistics in Philosophy

Technische Universität Dortmund, 13-14 March 2014



The “experimental philosophy” movement has recently gained some momentum in the philosophical community. The movement’s basic idea is to introduce experimental methods (other than thought experiments) or, more broadly, empirical methods to philosophy. Appropriated from the experimental paradigm in psychology, the method first and most often employed in experimental philosophy arguably is the use of questionnaires. Using experimental studies of this kind in philosophy may serve a number of purposes. A prominent one is to supplement the more traditional tools of analytic philosophy which are used in conceptual analyses of philosophically interesting terms. However, there is also a variety of other (at least partially) empirical methods in linguistics, e.g. methods from psycholinguistics, corpus analysis, etymology, discourse analysis or field studies, which could also be used for this purpose or a variety of other purposes in philosophy.

The first set of guiding questions of the workshop is: Which empirical methods from linguistics have been applied in philosophy already? To which end? Where and how could such methods be applied? The literature at present is sparse and scattered across various journals, the common methodological root is not always apparent. It is therefore expedient to gain an overview on the approaches that have already been tried, and to consider potential applications of methods that have not yet been tried. This, of course, also raises methodological questions. Most importantly: What are the potential benefits of the different empirical methods from linguistics for philosophy, and what are the limits of their application?


The workshop brings together researchers who implement empirical methods from linguistics in their philosophical research. Although the focus of the workshop is on the use of such methods in philosophy, both philosophers and linguists will be involved. Each of the six workshop sessions will open with a philosophical paper demonstrating the application of a specific linguistic method in philosophy. The paper will be followed by two peer commentaries, one by a linguist, the other by a philosopher.

The primary purpose of the workshop is exploratory: The potential applications, the benefits and the limits of linguistic methods in philosophy stand in need of clarification. The secondary purpose is to create a networking opportunity for researchers who employ (and those who intend to employ) empirical methods from linguistics in philosophy. The workshop is intended to pilot a larger conference, to be held in 2015.


The workshop is graciously supported by GdF, the Gesellschaft der Freunde der Technischen Universität Dortmund e.V. (the Society of the friends of TU Dortmund University), and GAP, the Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie e.V. (the Society for Analytic Philosophy).



(Last updated: 06 March 2014)


Thursday, 13 March 2014





Opening of the Workshop
Roland Bluhm (Dortmund)


Session 1: Corpus Analysis

Aurelie Herbelot (Cambridge):
“Distributional Semantics for Philosophy”

Peer commentaries:
Bill Louw (University of Zimbabwe)
Marija Milojkovic (Belgrade)


Coffee break


Session 2: Questionnaires Studies and Comparative Linguistics

Shin Sakuragi (Shibaura Institute of Technology, Tōkyō):
“Memory Expressions and Linguistic Methods”

Peer commentaries:
James Andow (Nottingham)
Ave Mets (Tartu)


Session 3: Questionnaire Studies

Magdalena Sztencel (Newcastle):
“Reconciling Truth-Based Inference with Subjective Inference? A Viewfrom a Multiple-Trace Theory of Memory”

Peer commentary:
Ave Mets (Tartu)


Conference dinner

Friday, 14 March 2014



Session 4: Psycholinguistics

Anna Drożdżowicz (Oslo):
“Speakers’ Judgments about Utterance Content and How to Get Them –the Verifcation Task and the Truth-Value Judgment Task”

Peer commentaries:
Alexander auf der Straße (Düsseldorf)
Anton Betz (Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin)


Session 5: Psycholinguistics

Eugen Fischer (East Anglia):
“Psycholinguistics for Philosophy: Explaining and Assessing ParadoxicalIntuitions”

Peer commentaries:
Kevin Reuter (Bochum)
Dejan Makovec (Vienna)


Coffee break


Session 6: Typology and Diachronic Linguistics

Barbara Vetter & Emanuel Viebahn (HU Berlin):
“Are Modals Polysemous?”

Peer commentary:
Nathan Wildman (Hamburg)


Lunch break


General discussion / future plans


Workshop Closing


For your information:


Practical Information


The workshop venue & how to get there

The workshop will be held at the Erich-Brost-Institut of TU Dortmund University:

   44227 Dortmund


How to get to Dortmund

Dortmund is, of course, linked to Germany’s railway, and there are frequent trains going in andcoming from every direction.

The closest airports are Dortmund and Düsseldorf (ca. 1 hour by train). Köln-Bonn Airport (ca. 2 hours) and Hannover Airport (ca. 2.5 hours) may be alternatives.


How to get to TU Dortmund University

From Dortmund main station (Dortmund Hauptbahnhof, abbreviated Dortmund Hbf.) take the S-Bahn No. 1 (S1) heading towards Solingen Hbf. Get off at Dortmund-Universität, the third stop (6 min ride).

Find more help at http://www.tu-dortmund.de/uni/International/Contact_and_Directions/.

Train schedules can be found and online tickets bought at http://www.bahn.de.


How to get to the Erich-Brost-Institut

Assuming you got off at the railway station Dortmund-Universität, the Erich-Brost-Institut is in walking distance (5 min): Follow the bulk of the students heading past the main library (Bibliothek) on your left. Walk straight across the bridge and past the refectory (Mensa) to your right. You willcome to a square. Take a left. Erich-Brost-Institut is at the end of the footpath.

Find a map at http://www.tu-dortmund.de/uni/International/Contact_and_Directions/ (the venue is labelled No. 22) or at http://www.brost.org/anfahrt.html.


If you get lost

Ask any student. Most will be able to help in some way.


Accomodation in Dortmund

Hotels can be found at, e.g., http://www.hotel.de or www.hrs.de.

Bed ‘n’ Breakfast can be found, e.g., at http://www.airbnb.com.



Dr. Roland Bluhm

Technische Universität Dortmund
Fakultät Humanwissenschaft und Theologie (14)
Institut für Philosophie und Politikwissenschaft
Emil-Figge-Str. 50
4227 Dortmund


Phone: +49 231 755-7912
Phone: +49 231 755-2999 (Secretary)
Fax: +49 231 755-5896 (Secretary)


A programme (pdf) with abstracts and all other information given on this page is available for download here.


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