Reference in the Land of the Rising Sun: A Cross-cultural Study on the Reference of Proper Names

Justin Sytsma, Jonathan Livengood, Ryoji Sato, Mineki Oguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A standard methodology in philosophy of language is to use intuitions as evidence. Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich (2004) challenged this methodology with respect to theories of reference by presenting empirical evidence that intuitions about one prominent example from the literature on the reference of proper names (Kripke’s Gödel case) vary between Westerners and East Asians. In response, Sytsma and Livengood (2011) conducted experiments to show that the questions Machery and colleagues asked participants in their study were ambiguous, and that this ambiguity affected the responses given by Westerners. Sytsma and Livengood took their results to cast doubt on the claim that the current evidence indicates that there is cross-cultural variation in intuitions about the Gödel case. In this paper we report on a new cross-cultural study showing that variation in intuitions remains even after controlling for the ambiguity noted by Sytsma and Livengood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-230
Number of pages18
JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 15 2015


  • standard methodology
  • original probe
  • American participant
  • answer choice
  • probe question

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reference in the Land of the Rising Sun: A Cross-cultural Study on the Reference of Proper Names'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this