The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and Probabilistic Inference: Evidence from the Domain of Color

Abstract

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis holds that our thoughts are shaped by our native language, and that speakers of different languages therefore think differently. This hypothesis is controversial in part because it appears to deny the possibility of a universal groundwork for human cognition, and in part because some findings held to support it have not reliably replicated. We argue that considering this hypothesis through the lens of probabilistic inference has the potential to resolve both issues, at least with respect to certain prominent findings concerning color cognition.


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