Experimenting on Contextualism

Mind and Language 28 (3):286-321 (2013)
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Abstract

In this article we refine the design ofcontext shifting experiments, which play a central role in contextualist debates, and we subject a large number of scenarios involving different types of expressions of interest to contextualists, including ‘know’ and color adjectives like ‘green’, to experimental investigation. Our experiment (i) reveals an effect of changing contexts on the evaluation of uses of the sentences that we examine, thereby overturning the absence of results reported in previous experimental studies (so‐callednull results), (ii) uncovers evidence for a ‘truth bias' in favor of positive over negative sentences, and (iii) reveals previously unnoticed distinctions between the strength of the contextual effects displayed by scenarios involving knowledge ascriptions and scenarios concerning color and other miscellaneous scenarios.

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