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My paper with Kevin Reuter “Separating the Evaluative from the Descriptive: An Empirical Study of Thick Concepts” was just published in Thought. A Journal of Philosophy. You can get free and read-only access here.

Thick terms and concepts, such as honesty and cruelty, are at the heart of a variety of debates in philosophy of language and metaethics. Central to these debates is the question of how the descriptive and evaluative components of thick concepts are related and whether they can be separated from each other. So far, no empirical data on how thick terms are used in ordinary language has been collected to inform these debates. In this paper, we present the first empirical study, designed to investigate whether the evaluative component of thick concepts is communicated as part of the semantic meaning or by means of conversational implicatures. While neither the semantic nor the pragmatic view can fully account for the use of thick terms in ordinary language, our results do favor the semanticist interpretation: the evaluation of a thick concept is only slightly easier to cancel than semantically entailed content. We further discovered a polarity effect, demonstrating that how easily an evaluation can be cancelled depends on whether the thick term is of positive or negative polarity.

  Posts

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April 20th, 2021

Blog Post in German on Philosophie.ch / Deutscher Blog-Beitrag

I so rarely write philosophical pieces in German that it feels particularly exciting when I do. Thanks to Philosophie.ch for […]

April 6th, 2021

Cognitive Science of Philosophy Symposium: Metaethics and Experimental Philosophy

Please take a look at my blog post on metaethics and experimental philosophy, with a comment by Bianca Cepollaro. Each […]

March 12th, 2021

New publication!

My paper with Kevin Reuter “Separating the Evaluative from the Descriptive: An Empirical Study of Thick Concepts” was just published in Thought. […]

January 19th, 2021

My invited talks for 2021, update: 25.03.2021

The new year starts as inspiring, productive, and busy as the last one ended. I have been invited to present […]

February 18th, 2020

Presentation Slides: Separability and the Effect of Valence

Thick concepts like courage and intolerance are at the heart of a variety of debates in linguistics, philosophy of language, […]

February 18th, 2020

Pre-print available: Basic and derivative moral responsibility: An overlooked distinction in experimental philosophy

Abstract Moral philosophers draw an important distinction between two kinds of moral responsibility. An agent can be directly morally responsible, […]

November 13th, 2019

I’ll be giving a talk in Cologne, 5 – 7 December 2019

What methods can and should philosophy apply in order to make progress? The answer to this question largely depends on […]

November 13th, 2019

I’ll be giving a talk in Zurich, 14 – 16 November 2019

If you’re around Zurich, please join the amazing workshop that Hans-Joachim Glock, Elia Haemmerli, and Kevin Reuter have put together. The topic […]

March 18th, 2019

New Publication

I am excited to announce that my paper The Relevance of Alternative Possibilities for Moral Responsibility is about to be […]

January 22nd, 2019

My first book awaits your order!