18 MAY 2020 - 30 MAY 2020
CORPUS FORTNIGHT | X-PHI CONFERENCE

Two weeks of talks exploring
the use of corpus methods in philosophy.

Join us for some of the talks or all,
whatever works for your schedule!

All talks on Zoom at 3:00pm (EDT) / 7:00pm (GMT)

Email jmsytsma@gmail.com for Zoom details

Guidelines for engagement

18 May: Justin Sytsma, Roland Bluhm, Pascale Willemsen, and Kevin Reuter, "Causal Attributions and Corpus Analysis"

 

→ VIEW RECORDING (Password: 7O^e.3#0)

→ Paper

 

19 May: Mark Alfano, "Automated psycholinguistic analysis of the Anglophone manosphere" 

→ VIEW RECORDING (Password: 8J+i+1*O)

→ R Code

→ Paper
→ Corpora
→ Dictionaries

→ LIWCalike

 

20 May: Nat Hansen, J.D. Porter, and Kathryn Francis, "A Corpus Study of 'Know'"
 

→ VIEW RECORDING (Password: 5i=%367m)

→ Paper


21 May: Christophe Malaterre, Jean-François Chartier and Francis Lareau, "The Recipes of Philosophy of Science: Topic-Modeling and Associative Rules"
 

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→ Related Paper


22 May: Kevin Reuter, Pascale Willemsen, and Lucien Baumgartner, "Tracing Thick Concepts Through Corpora"

 

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23 May: Joe Ulatowski, "Is That a Fact?"
 

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→ Slides


24 May: Shaun Nichols, "Corpora and the Evidence Available to Learners"
 

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25 May: Rachel Dudley, Meredith Rowe, Valentine Hacquard & Jeffrey Lidz, "The difficulty of knowing: using corpus analyses to understand linguistic development"
 

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26 May: Colin Allen, "Topics or Contexts? Interpretive Strategies for the Variability of Topic Models"
 

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27 May: Eugen Fischer and J. Sytsma, "Word Frequencies and Zombie Intuitions"  
 

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28 May: Jean Guy Meunier, "Modeling computer-assisted conceptual analysis in texts (CACAT)"
 

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29 May: Louis Chartrand, Kelly Barr, Filippo Vindrola, Daniel Wilkenfeld, Colin Allen, and Edouard Machery, "Universality and Variation in Folk Epistemology"

 

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30 May: Jen Cole Wright, "Using CHILDES to Explore Early Moral Language (and More!)"

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→ Paper #1

→ Paper #2

→ Slides

 

31 May: Zoom social hour

Causal Attribution and Causal Analysis

Justin Sytsma, Roland Bluhm, Pascale Willemsen, and Kevin Reuter

May 18

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

 

May 19

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Joe Ulatowski

Although philosophers have often held that causation is a purely descriptive notion, a growing body of experimental work on ordinary causal attributions using questionnaire methods indicates that it is heavily influenced by normative information. These results have been the subject of sceptical challenges. Additionally, those who find the results compelling have disagreed about how best to explain them. In this chapter, we help resolve these debates by using a new set of tools to investigate ordinary causal attributions—the methods of corpus linguistics. We apply both more qualitative corpus analysis techniques and the more purely quantitative methods of distributional semantics to four target questions: (a) Can corpus analysis provide independent support for the thesis that ordinary causal attributions are sensitive to normative information? (b) Does the evidence coming from corpus analysis support the contention that outcome valence matters for ordinary causal attributions? (c) Are ordinary causal attributions similar to responsibility attributions? (d) Are causal attributions of philosophers different from causal attributions we find in corpora of more ordinary language? We argue that the results of our analyses support a positive answer to each of these questions.

Automated Psycholinguistic Analysis of the Anglophone Manosphere

Mark Alfano

May 19

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 20

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Justin Sytsma

Masculinity seems to play a role in the recruitment and radicalization of lone-wolf terrorists and other violent extremists. In this paper, we examine multiple dimensions of masculinity in six corpora. We do so via linguistic analysis of the corpora associated with and produced by a range of groups and individuals. In particular, we analyze two corpora from each of: men’s rights groups, male supremacists, and manifestos of male domestic terrorists. Our results indicate that there are four distinct strands of thinking, language, and behavior in these groups and individuals: hegemonic masculinity, which manifests in domination of both women and other men, subordinated masculinity, which manifests in a resentful reactions to domination by other men, misogyny, which manifests in dominating, resentful, or outright hateful attitudes and actions towards women, and xenophobia, which manifests in fearful and vengeful reactions to invasion by and outsiders.

A Corpus Study of 'Know'

Nat Hansen, J.D. Porter, and Kathryn Francis

May 20

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 21

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Joe Ulatowski

We investigate claims about the frequency of “know” made by philosophers. Our investigation has several overlapping aims. First, we aim to show what is required to confirm or disconfirm philosophers’ claims about the comparative frequency of different uses of philosophically interesting expressions. Second, we aim to show how using linguistic corpora as tools for investigating meaning is a productive methodology, in the sense that it yields discoveries about the use of language that philosophers would have overlooked if they remained in their “armchairs of an afternoon”, to use J.L. Austin’s phrase. Third, we discuss facts about the meaning of “know” that so far have been ignored in philosophy, with the aim of reorienting discussions of the relevance of ordinary language for philosophical theorizing. 

The Recipe of the Philosophy of Science: Topic Modelling and Associative Rules

Christophe Malaterre, Jean-François Chartier and Francis Lareau

May 21

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 22

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Dan Weijers

Scientific articles have semantic contents and structures that are usually quite specific to their disciplinary origins. After all, disciplines target specific subject matters, as do sub-disciplines or even specific articles within given journals. Here, we propose to characterize the semantic structure of scientific corpora by means of associative rules among articles topical contents as inferred with unsupervised text-mining algorithms. As a case study, we focus on one particular subfield of the humanities—the philosophy of science—for which we investigate the semantic topology of the complete corpus of one of its leading journals: Philosophy of Science. On the basis of a topic modeling of the corpus, we infer a set of 96 topic associative rules that characterize specific clusters of articles on the basis of how these articles combine topics in peculiar patterns. In a way, such topic associative rules can be interpreted as “topical recipes” for generating distinct types of philosophy of science articles. In addition, insights on the relative topical interconnectedness of article clusters can be gained by analyzing the topology of the overall rule network.

Tracing Thick Concepts Through Corpora

Kevin Reuter, Pascale Willemsen, and Lucien Baumgartner

May 22

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 23

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Joe Ulatowski

Which concepts count as thick? Agreement only exists for a few paradigmatic concepts like courageous and rude. Mostly, philosophers rely on their intuitions on how to distinguish thick concepts from thin concepts, descriptive concepts and value-associated concepts. In this talk, we discuss and present the results of three attempts to operationalize thick concepts using the methods of corpus analysis.

Is That a Fact?

Joseph Ulatowski

May 23

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 24

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Justin Sytsma

Facts are at the very core of intellectual activity, a precondition for understanding, and the central product of all human endeavours. There are two dominant theories of facts. On one hand, facts are taken to be abstract complexes of objects and properties, which have various logical and metaphysical features.  Facts, on this account, are specially structured building blocks of reality.  This compositional conception contrasts with a deflationary propositional account of facts, which takes facts to be true propositions.  On either theory, we may not modify the word “fact” with “true,” “loose,” “accurate,” “exact,” or “alternative” because of the word’s modal features. Philosophers, especially Hannah Arendt but also J.L. Austin, Peter Geach, and John Wisdom, have alerted us to a closely allied ordinary language epistemic sense of fact.  In this paper, I provide evidence using corpus analysis that the expression ‘… is a fact’ behaves like a modal conception of facts, while ‘facts’ behaves in the epistemic sense and may be subject to spectral moderation, which leaves it far more vulnerable to interpretation, politicisation, and—potentially—perversion.   

Corpora and the Evidence Available to Learners

Shaun Nichols

May 24

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 25

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Joe Ulatowski

Many philosophically interesting concepts and distinctions seem to be acquired in early childhood. Statistical learning approaches provide a promising avenue to illuminating the acquisition of these aspects of cognition. In recent work, we have drawn on principles of statistical learning (in particular, the Size Principle) to provide an analysis of how children might come to think that knowledge is infallible (Nichols & Pinillos 2018) and how they might come to think that rules apply only to what an agent does and not to what the agent allows to happen (Nichols et al. 2016). For these kinds of statistical learning explanations to be adequate, it’s critical to determine the evidence available to the little learner (see, e.g., Foraker et al 2009). We used a corpus on child-directed speech (CHILDES) to assess the linguistic evidence available to the child in the relevant epistemic and normative domains.

The Difficulty of Knowing: Using Corpus Analyses to Discover Linguistic Development

Rachel Dudley, Meredith Rowe, Valentine Hacquard & Jeffrey Lidz

May 25

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 26

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Dan Weijers

Understanding how children develop adult-like representations is important in any domain within cognitive science. By investigating children's behavior at different ages as well as the potential information in their environment, we can make better inferences about the representations that children hold across development as well as the kinds of learning mechanisms that they use to arrive at these representations. In this talk, we'll present a case study from developmental linguistics that integrates corpus analyses with behavioral studies to ask how children acquire the subtle distinction in meaning between "know" and "think". While both of these propositional attitude verbs describe beliefs, they are not synonymous. "Know" is both veridical and factive, meaning that it only felicitously describes true beliefs about propositions which can be taken for granted by the speaker. In contrast, "think" is both non-veridical and non-factive in that it can describe false beliefs and also beliefs about propositions that we do not take for granted. 

Topics or Contexts? Interpretive Strategies for the Variability of Topic Models

Colin Allen

May 26

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 27

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Justin Sytsma

I will describe some of my adventures in LDA topic modeling, and lessons learned, focusing especially on the growing realization that much of what has been done with topic models leaves much to be desired. I will discuss some of the techniques my collaborators and I have deployed to try to understand the stochastic variability that arises from the topic modeling process, and I will argue that a document-centered approach which (mostly) eschews the attempt to interpret individual topics, but instead focuses on the contexts in which documents are written and read, provides a better framework for presenting and thinking about the results of topic modeling.

Word Frequencies and Zombie Intuitions

Eugen Fischer and Justin Sytsma

May 27

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 28

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Dan Weijers

In a novel extension of ‘evidentiary’ experimental philosophy, we explore how the study of word frequencies can help expose zombie intuitions. In philosophical thought experiments, as in ordinary discourse, our understanding of verbal case descriptions is enriched by automatic comprehension inferences. Such inferences have us routinely infer what else is also true of the cases described. These inferences are shaped by patterns in use frequencies: For instance, whether default inferences from a polysemous word influence further judgment and reasoning depends upon the relative frequencies of its different senses. We explore how simple corpus analyses – including human annotations and distributional semantic analysis – can be used to study such frequencies. We submit that pronounced frequency imbalances can lead to inappropriate inferences from rare uses of polysemous words. Our study shows that such inferences can generate zombie intuitions: intuitions that are ‘killed’ (defeated) by contextual information but kept cognitively alive by the psycholinguistic phenomenon of salience bias. Our paper will empirically develop and assess the hypothesis that Chalmers’s ‘zombie argument’ against materialism is built on zombie intuitions.

Modelling Computer-Assisted Conceptual Analysis in Texts (CACAT)

Jean Guy Meunier

May 28

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 29

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Justin Sytsma

A computer-assisted conceptual analysis in texts aims at exploring the conceptual content of a specific highly theoretical lexical item used in philosophical texts. But because of the complexity of such task, the analysis cannot be realized by just using ready-made off-the-shelf computer programs. It requires much fine tuning or various conceptual formal, computational and computer models. Experiments on half a dozen philosophers have revealed some best practices and pitfalls of such a computer assisted endeavor.   

Universality and Variation in Folk Epistemology

Louis Chartrand, Kelli Barr, Filippo Vindrola, Daniel Wilkenfold, Colin Allen, and Edouard Machery

May 29

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 30

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Dan Weijers

Philosophers tend to treat concepts of philosophical interest as if they were universal, but there are reasons to suspect that many might not be found in all cultures. In this study, we focus on epistemic concepts, providing a new perspective on the decade-long debate about the universality of epistemic concepts. To do so, we used the CLICS database of cross-linguistic colexifications (Rzymski et al. 2019) as our corpus, extending methods pioneered by Jackson et al. (2019) on emotion concepts. We examine the extent to which distinct epistemic concepts are colexified across different languages and language families, comparing them to emotion, color, and nature concepts. We also examine factors explaining variation and lack thereof, as well as striking patterns of variation and invariance. We discuss the extent to which these patterns of colexification indicate the presence or absence of universal conceptual schemes.

Using CHILDES to Explore Early Moral Language (& More!)

Jen Cole Wright

May 30

3:00 pm (EDT)

7:00 pm (GMT)

May 31

7:00 am (NZST)

Moderator:

Joe Ulatowski

In this session I will present some of the research done in my lab using CHILDES to explore young children's early use of moral concepts--thin moral concepts in particular. I will then explore the value of CHILDES as a tool for experimental philosophy more generally, discussing a couple of different methodological techniques.