A Corpus Study of "Know": On the Verification of Philosophers' Frequency Claims about Language

Episteme 18 (2):242-268 (2021)
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Abstract

We investigate claims about the frequency of "know" made by philosophers. Our investigation has several overlapping aims. First, we aim to show what is required to confirm or disconfirm philosophers’ claims about the comparative frequency of different uses of philosophically interesting expressions. Second, we aim to show how using linguistic corpora as tools for investigating meaning is a productive methodology, in the sense that it yields discoveries about the use of language that philosophers would have overlooked if they remained in their "armchairs of an afternoon", to use J.L. Austin’s phrase. Third, we discuss facts about the meaning of "know" that so far have been ignored in philosophy, with the aim of reorienting discussions of the relevance of ordinary language for philosophical theorizing.

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