Carnapian explications, experimental philosophy, and fruitful concepts

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (6):700-717 (2019)
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It seems natural to think that Carnapian explication and experimental philosophy can go hand in hand. But what exactly explicators can gain from the data provided by experimental philosophers remains controversial. According to an influential proposal by Shepherd and Justus, explicators should use experimental data in the process of ‘explication preparation’. Against this proposal, Mark Pinder has recently suggested that experimental data can directly assist an explicator’s search for fruitful replacements of the explicandum. In developing his argument, he also proposes a novel aspect of what makes a concept fruitful, namely, that it is taken up by the relevant community. In this paper, I defend explication preparation against Pinder’s objections and argue that his uptake proposal conflates theoretical and practical success conditions of explications. Furthermore, I argue that Pinder’s suggested experimental procedure needs substantial revision. I end by distinguishing two kinds of explication projects, and showing how experimental philosophy can contribute to each of them.

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Steffen Koch
Bielefeld University


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