The Philosophical Debate on Linguistic Bias: A Critical Perspective

Philosophical Psychology (forthcoming)
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Drawing on empirical findings, a number of philosophers have recently argued that people who use English as a foreign language may face a linguistic bias in academia in that they or their contributions may be perceived more negatively than warranted because of their English. I take a critical look at this argument. I first distinguish different phenomena that may be conceptualized as linguistic bias but that should be kept separate to avoid overgeneralizations. I then examine a range of empirical studies that philosophers have cited to argue that people who use English as a foreign language are subject to linguistic bias in academia. I contend that many of these studies do not sufficiently support key claims that philosophers have made about linguistic bias, are challenged by counterevidence, and lack generalizability. I end by introducing methodological recommendations that may help philosophers develop more convincing empirically informed arguments regarding linguistic bias.

Author's Profile

Uwe Peters
University of Cambridge


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