Stereotype-Based Intuitions: A Psycholinguistic Approach to Experimental Philosophy’s ‘Sources Project’


Experimental philosophy’s ‘sources project’ seeks to develop psychological explanations of philosophically relevant intuitions which help us assess their evidentiary value. This paper develops a psycholinguistic explanation of intuitions prompted by brief philosophical case-descriptions. For proof of concept, we target intuitions underlying a classic paradox about perception (‘argument from hallucination’). We trace them to stereotype-driven inferences automatically executed in verb comprehension. We employ a forced-choice plausibility-ranking task to show that contextually inappropriate stereotypical inferences are made from less salient uses of the verb “to see”. This yields a debunking explanation which resolves the philosophical paradox.

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