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Thick concepts like courage and intolerance are at the heart of a variety of debates in linguistics, philosophy of language, and metaethics. Central to these debates is the question of how the descriptive and evaluative components of thick concepts are related. 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 set of empirical studies, designed to investigate whether the evaluative component of thick concepts is communicated by means of semantics or pragmatics. Our studies not only favor the semantic view, they also reveal an effect of valence, indicating that people reason differently about positive and negative thick terms. Three follow-up studies were conducted to explain this effect. We conclude that the effect of valence is best accounted for by a difference in the social norms guiding evaluative language.

Find the presentation I gave here.

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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!

December 30th, 2018

Talk at the APA Eastern Division

On Wednesday, January 9 2019, I will be giving a talk at the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. If you’re […]

December 17th, 2018

Guest Appearance at Quarks

Organ donation is giving an organ to someone else who needs a transplant. In many cases when we talk about […]

November 10th, 2018

GdF Prize for Outstanding Interdisciplinary Dissertations

I recently won a prize for the best interdisciplinary dissertation at Ruhr-University Bochum. Thanks to the Freunde der Ruhr-University Bochum!

November 10th, 2018

New Publication

If you’re interested in causal cognition, it is very hard these days not to engage with empirical evidence indicating that […]