Ratio 28 (4):422-445 (2015)

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Abstract
J.L. Austin is regarded as having an especially acute ear for fine distinctions of meaning overlooked by other philosophers. Austin employs an informal experimental approach to gathering evidence in support of these fine distinctions in meaning, an approach that has become a standard technique for investigating meaning in both philosophy and linguistics. In this paper, we subject Austin's methods to formal experimental investigation. His methods produce mixed results: We find support for his most famous distinction, drawn on the basis of his `donkey stories', that `mistake' and `accident' apply to different cases, but not for some of his other attempts to distinguish the meaning of philosophically significant terms. We critically examine the methodology of informal experiments employed in ordinary language philosophy and much of contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics, and discuss the role that experimenter bias can play in influencing judgments about informal and formal linguistic experiments.
Keywords experimental philosophy  J.L. Austin  meaning  experimenter bias
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DOI 10.1111/rati.12112
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References found in this work BETA

Survey-Driven Romanticism.Simon Cullen - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (2):275-296.
A Plea for Excuses.John Austin - 1957 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57:1--30.

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Citations of this work BETA

Must We Measure What We Mean?Nat Hansen - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (8):785-815.
The Ordinary and the Experimental: Cook Wilson and Austin on Method in Philosophy.Guy Longworth - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (5):939-960.
Projects and Methods of Experimental Philosophy.Eugen Fischer & Justin Sytsma - forthcoming - In Alexander Max Bauer & Stephan Kornmesser (eds.), The Compact Compendium of Experimental Philosophy. Berlin: De Gruyter.

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