, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 617–641 | Cite as

Intuitions in Philosophical Semantics

Original Article


We argue that the term “intuition”, as it is used in metaphilosophy, is ambiguous between at least four different senses. In philosophy of language, the relevant “intuitions” are either the outputs of our competence to interpret and produce linguistic expressions, or the speakers’ or hearers’ own reports of these outputs. The semantic facts that philosophers of language are interested in are determined by the outputs of our competence. Hence, philosophers of language should be interested in investigating these, and they do this by testing what we would say or understand in hypothetical communication situations. In the final section of the paper we suggest some methods for investigating these outputs which are independent of whether subjects report them, and hence which might be used as an alternative to the standard use of hypothetical cases.


Thought Experiment Belief State Folk Psychology Intuitive Judgment Baseball Player 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The material in this paper was presented at various conferences and workshops during the last months. We would like to thank those audiences, the anonymous referees for this journal, Alex Davies, Michael Devitt, Nat Hansen, Sören Häggqvist, Ole Koksvik, Genoveva Martí, Jennifer Nagel, and John Perry for helpful comments. Research on this paper was supported by the Thyssen Foundation, Estonian Science Foundation grants SFLFI11085E, IUT20-5, and ETF9083, and Norwegian Research Council grant 212841.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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