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Contribution to Book
The Role of Psychology in the Philosophy of Language
Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language (2011)
  • Robert J. Stainton, University of Western Ontario

Are psychological facts relevant to philosophy of language; and, in particular, does scientific psychology have a legitimate role to play? For example, is it methodologically permissible for philosophers of language to rely upon evidence from neurological development, experiments about processing, brain scans, clinical case histories, longitudinal studies, questionnaires, etc.? If so, why? These two questions are the focus of this survey. I address them in two stages. Psychology may seem obviously relevant. I thus begin by introducing arguments against relevance, to motivate the discussion. I will urge that these ultimately fail, and that the appearance of relevance should be taken at face value. In this first section, the focus is on the possible relevance of psychological evidence available to the lay person. Next, I introduce positive arguments for relevance, from examples – shifting the spotlight to recherché evidence from scientific psychology. To foreshadow the main conclusion, psychology, including specifically the methods and results of contemporary cognitive psychology, are relevant because there are connections, both necessary and contingent, between language and the human mind.

  • metaphilosophy; philosophy of language; philosophical methodology; experimental philosophy
Publication Date
D. Graff Fara & G. Russell
Citation Information
Robert J. Stainton. "The Role of Psychology in the Philosophy of Language" LondonRoutledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language (2011)
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