Department of Philosophy

Roland Bluhm: Computerised Ordinary Language Philosophy

You are kindly invited to the workshop 'Computerised Ordinary Language Philosophy: An Introduction to Using Linguistic Text Corpora for Philosophical Purposes' with Dr Roland Bluhm (TU Dortmund University, Germany) The workshop is aimed at PhD, Master and advanced Bachelor students (third year or later) as well as researchers and staff members. Please note that Bluhm will also give a guest lecture on 18 March (see link further below).

Main content


17 March, 10:15-12:00: Introduction

The workshop will open with the presentation and discussion of a research paper on the use of linguistic text corpora in philosophy:

Although Ordinary Language Philosophy has largely fallen out of favour, and with it the belief in the primary importance of analyses of ordinary language, reference to the use and the meaning of expressions of interest in ordinary parlance is still frequent among philosophers. In their analyses of ordinary language use, philosophers most commonly appeal to their own linguistic intuition. This armchair inquiry is sometimes supplemented by reference to dictionaries or in recent times by queries of general internet search engines for pertinent linguistic expressions. Apparently the attempt is to surpass the limits of individual linguistic intuition by appeal to factual uses of language (either directly or indirectly, relying on the dictionary writers? expertise). This attempt is commendable but instead of appealing to dictionaries or internet queries, philosophers should use computer-based linguistic text corpora to find evidential support for their analyses of ordinary language use. In Linguistics, this is a well-established practice. At least some linguistic text corpora are freely accessible on the internet, and computerisation has made their use feasible beyond the boundaries of linguistics. Surprisingly, corpora have been so far almost completely disregarded by philosophers. I will demonstrate some useful applications of corpus analysis, and I will argue that using corpora has some advantages over other (partly) empirical methods in philosophy.

17 March, 13:15-16:00: Workshop sessions

In the workshop sessions, we will discuss the bene¬fits and limits of the method of corpus analysis with respect to philosophical topics that you are in fact working on. The process of corpus analysis will be introduced and we will do some exemplary corpus queries. The aim is to enable you to formulate research questions for which corpus analysis in a suitable method and to relate this to your own philosophical interests.

18/19 March: Tutorials

On 18 and 19 March, there will be the opportunity to discuss the application of the method in one-to-one tutorials.