Intuitions, Disagreement and Referential Pluralism

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Abstract

Mallon, Machery, Nichols and Stich (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79: 332–356, 2009) argue that the use of intuitions in the philosophy of reference is problematic as recent studies show intuitions about reference vary both within and between cultures. I use some ideas from the recent literature on disagreement and truth relativism to shed light on the debate concerning the appropriate reaction to these studies. Mallon et al. argue that variation is problematic because if one tries to use intuitions which vary to find the correct theory of reference one will end up endorsing an absurd position: referential pluralism. I argue that there is hope for intuition-based philosophy of reference. One can avoid endorsing referential pluralism (as Mallon et al. understand it). Furthermore, referential pluralism may not be so absurd after all.