Semantics, Cross-Cultural Style

Edouard Machery, Ron Mallon, Shaun Nichols, Stephen Stich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Theories of meaning and reference have been at the heart of analytic philosophy since the beginning of the twentieth century. Two views have dominated the field: the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference. The common wisdom in philosophy is that Kripke has refuted the traditional descriptivist theories of reference by producing some famous stories which elicit intuitions that are inconsistent with these theories. Recent work in cultural psychology has indicated the possibility that the intuitions that guide theorizing in this domain might differ between members of East Asian and Western cultures. This chapter presents evidence that intuition probes, closely modeled on Kripke's stories, elicit significantly different responses from East Asians (Hong Kong undergraduates) and Westerners (American undergraduates). It discusses the significance of this finding for the philosophical pursuit of a theory of reference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCollected Papers
Subtitle of host publicationMind and Language, 1972-2010
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190267513
ISBN (Print)9780199734108
StatePublished - Sep 22 2011


  • Analytic philosophy
  • Cultural psychology
  • East asians
  • Intuition probes
  • Saul kripke
  • Theor of reference
  • Westerners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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