Open Journal Systems

A bibliometric study of the research field of experimental philosophy of language

Jincai Li, Xiaozhen Zhu

Article ID: 1462
Vol 4, Issue 1, 2022, Article identifier:18-35

VIEWS - 9 (Abstract) 275 (PDF)


The past eighteen years witnessed the rapid development of experimental philosophy of language. Adopting a bibliometric approach, this study examines the research trends and status quo of this burgeoning field based on a corpus of 237 publications retrieved from PhilPapers. It is observed that experimental philosophy of language has undergone three stages, the initiation stage, the development stage, and the extension stage, across which there is a clear upward trend in the annual number of publications. Michael Devitt, Edouard Machery, John Turri, Nat Hansen, et al., are found to be the most productive philosophers, testifying their leading positions in this field. Journals, instead of books, are the major homes of works in this area. The analysis also yields a list of influential works, including the seminal work “Semantics, Cross-cultural Style” and other significant publications on the semantics of various types of expressions. Relatedly, the major research themes are found to include not only intuitions about the reference of proper names, but also a wide array of philosophically and linguistically interesting issues like the meaning of color adjectives, epistemic modals, and predicates of personal taste, the norms of assertions and the essence of lies, etc. These findings showcase that experimental philosophy of language has broadened the research territory and offered deep insights into central issues of philosophy of language that are beyond the reach of the conventional armchair methodology.


experimental philosophy of language; bibliometric analysis; research trend; research themes

Full Text:


Included Database


Adams Z and Hansen N (2020) The myth of the commonsense conception of color. In: Wikforss A and Marques T (eds.) Shifting Concepts: The Philosophy and Psychology of Conceptual Variability. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.106–127.

Andow J (2015) How “intuition” exploded. Metaphilosophy 46(2): 189–212.

Bear A and Knobe J (2017) Normality: Part descriptive, part prescriptive. Cognition 167: 25–37.

Beddor B and Egan A (2018) Might do better: Flexible relativism and the QUD. Semantics and Pragmatics 11: 7.

Bianchi A (ed.) (2015) On Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bianchi A (ed.) (2020) Language and Reality from a Naturalistic Perspective: Themes from Michael Devitt. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Biggs S and Geirsson H (eds.) (2021) The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

Bruner J, O’Connor C, Rubin H, et al. (2018) David Lewis in the lab: Experimental results on the emergence of meaning. Synthese 195(2): 603–621.

Cappelen H and Dever J (2018) Puzzles of Reference (1st edn.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chang H-Y, Lin T-J, Lee M-H, et al. (2020) A systematic review of trends and findings in research employing drawing assessment in science education. Studies in Science Education 56(1): 77–110.

Chemla E and Singh R (2014) Remarks on the experimental turn in the study of scalar implicature, Part I. Language and Linguistics Compass 8(9): 373–386.

Cummins C and Katsos N (eds.) (2019) The Oxford Handbook of Experimental Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

De Bellis N (2009) Bibliometrics and Citation Analysis: From the Science Citation Index to Cybermetics. Maryland: Scarecrow Press.

Devitt M and Porot N (2018) The reference of proper names: Testing usage and intuitions. Cognitive Science 42(5): 1552–1585.

Fischer E, Engelhardt PE, Horvath J, et al. (2019) Experimental ordinary language philosophy: A cross-linguistic study of defeasible default inferences. Synthese 198: 1029–1070.

Fischer E and Curtis M (eds.) (2019) Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Hansen N (2015) Experimental philosophy of language. Oxford Handbooks Online. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935314.013.53

Hansen N and Chemla E (2013) Experimenting on contextualism. Mind & Language 28(3): 286–321.

Hansen N and Chemla E (2017) Color adjectives, standards, and thresholds: An experimental investigation. Linguistics and Philosophy 40(3): 239–278.

Haukioja J (ed.) (2015) Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Language. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Hyland K and Jiang F (2021) A bibliometric study of EAP research: Who is doing what, where and when? Journal of English for Academic Purposes 49: 100929.

Khoo J and Phillips J (2019) New horizons for a theory of epistemic modals. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97(2): 309–324.

Khoo J (2015) Modal disagreements. Inquiry 58(5): 511–534.

Khoo J and Knobe J (2016) Moral disagreement and moral semantics. Noûs 52(1): 109–143.

Kneer M (2018) The norm of assertion: Empirical data. Cognition 177: 165–171.

Kneer M (2021a) Predicates of personal taste: Empirical data. Synthese 199(3–4): 6455–6471.

Kneer M (2021b) Norms of assertion in the United States, Germany, and Japan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118(37): e2105365118.

Kneer M (2022) Contextualism versus relativism: More empirical data. In: Wyatt J, Zakkou J, and Zeman D (eds.) Perspectives on Taste. New York: Routledge, pp.109–140.

Knobe J (2015) Philosophers are doing something different now: Quantitative data. Cognition 135: 36–38.

Knobe J (2016) Experimental philosophy is cognitive science. In: Sytsma J and Buckwalter W (eds.) A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., pp.37–52.

Knobe J, Prasada S, and Newman GE (2013) Dual character concepts and the normative dimension of conceptual representation. Cognition 127(2): 242–257.

Knobe J and Yalcin S (2014) Epistemic modals and context: Experimental data. Semantics and Pragmatics 7.

Koch S (2019) Carnapian explications, experimental philosophy, and fruitful concepts. Inquiry 62(6): 700–717.

Lassiter D (2016) Must, knowledge, and (in)directness. Natural Language Semantics 24(2): 117–163.

Li J and Liu L (2015) Shiyan yuyan zhexue: Gegu dingxin yihuo chenchen xiangyin [Experimental philosophy of language: Radical reform or old wine in new bottles?]. Contemporary Linguistics 3: 273–283.

Li X and Lei L (2019) A bibliometric analysis of topic modelling studies (2000–2017). Journal of Information Science 47: 161–175.

Lei L and Liu D (2019) Research trends in applied linguistics from 2005 to 2016: A bibliometric analysis and its implications. Applied Linguistics 40: 540–561.

Liu X, Xu Q, and Li M (2015) A comparative analysis of scientific publications in management journals by authors from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau: 2003–2012. Scientometrics 105: 135–143.

Machery E (2021) Cross cultural semantics at 15. In: Biggs S and Geirsson H (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. New York: Routledge, pp.535–550.

Machery E, Mallon R, Nichols S, et al. (2004) Semantics, cross-cultural style. Cognition 92(3): B1–B12.

Machery E, Sytsma J, and Deutsch M (2015) Speaker’s reference and cross-cultural semantics. In: Bianchi A (ed.) On Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.62–76.

Marsili N (2016) Lying by promising: A study on insincere illocutionary acts. International Review of Pragmatics 8(2): 271–313.

Marsili N and Wiegmann A (2021) Should I say that? An experimental investigation of the norm of assertion. Cognition 212: 104657.

Meibauer J and Steinbach M (eds.) (2011) Experimental Pragmatics/Semantics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Nado J (ed.) (2016) Advances in Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Methodology. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Mukerji N (2019) Experimental Philosophy: A Critical Study. London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International.

Noveck I (2018) Experimental Pragmatics: The Making of a Cognitive Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

O’Neill E and Machery E (eds.) (2014) Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy. New York: Routledge.

Pritchard A (1969) Statistical bibliography or bibliometrics? Journal of Documentation 25: 348–9.

Reins LM and Wiegmann A (2021) Is lying bound to commitment? Empirically investigating deceptive presuppositions, implicatures, and actions. Cognitive Science 45(2): e12936.

Rett J (2018) The semantics of many, much, few, and little. Language and Linguistics Compass 12(1).

Reuter K (2019) Dual character concepts. Philosophy Compass 14(1): e12557.

Reuter K and Brössel P (2019) No knowledge required. Episteme 16(3): 303–321.

Schindler S, Drożdżowicz A, and Brøcker K (eds.) (2020) Linguistic Intuitions. Evidence and Method. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Silk A (2021) Evaluational adjectives. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102(1): 127–161.

Syrett K and Koev T (2015) Experimental evidence for the truth conditional contribution and shifting information status of appositives. Journal of Semantics 32(3): 525–577.

Sytsma J and Buckwalter W (eds.) (2016) A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Sytsma J, Livengood J, Sato R, et al. (2015) Reference in the land of the rising sun: A cross-cultural study on the reference of proper names. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6(2): 213–230.

Turri A and Turri J (2016) Lying, uptake, assertion, and intent. International Review of Pragmatics 8(2): 314–333.

Turri J (2013) The test of truth: An experimental investigation of the norm of assertion. Cognition 129(2): 279–291.

Turri J (2016a) Knowledge, certainty, and assertion. Philosophical Psychology 29(2): 293–299.

Turri J (2016b) The point of assertion is to transmit knowledge. Analysis 76(2): 130–136.

Turri J (2016c) Knowledge and assertion in “Gettier” cases. Philosophical Psychology 29(5): 759–775.

Turri J (2017) Experimental work on the norms of assertion. Philosophy Compass 12(7): e12425.

Turri J (2021) Truth, fallibility, and justification: New studies in the norms of assertion. Synthese 198(9): 8073–8084.

Weissman B and Terkourafi M (2019) Are false implicatures lies? An empirical investigation. Mind & Language 34(2): 221–246.

Xie Z and Willett P (2013) The development of computer science research in the People’s Republic of China 2000–2009: A bibliometric study. Information Development 29(3): 251–264.

Zhang X (2020) A bibliometric analysis of second language acquisition between 1997 and 2018. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 42(1): 199–222.

(9 Abstract Views, 275 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Jincai Li, Xiaozhen Zhu