Reports from Twin Earth: Both Deep Structure and Appearance Determine the Reference of Natural Kind Terms
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Following the influential thought experiments by Hilary Putnam and others, philosophers of language have for the most part adopted semantic externalism concerning natural kind terms. In this article, we present results from three experiments on the reference of natural kind terms. Our results confirm some standard externalist assumptions, but are in conflict with others: Ordinary speakers take both appearance and underlying nature to be central in their categorization judgments. Moreover, our results indicate that speakers’ categorization judgments are gradual, and proportional to the degree of similarity between new samples and familiar, “standard” samples. These findings pose problems for traditional theories, both externalist and internalist.