•  18
    Meta-Semantic Moral Encroachment: Some Experimental Evidence
    with Lauris Kaplinski and Maarja Lepamets
    Studia Philosophica Estonica 12 7-33. 2019.
    This paper presents experimental evidence in support of the existence of metalinguistic moral encroachment: the influence of the moral consequences of using a word with a given content upon the content of that word. The evidence collected implies that the effect of moral factors upon content is weak. The implications of this for Esa Díaz-León’s recent attempt to show how Jennifer Saul can legitimately reject an empirical semantic hypothesis on political grounds are described. Directions for futu…Read more
  •  149
    Identity Display: another motive for metalinguistic disagreement
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    It has become standard to conceive of metalinguistic disagreement as motivated by a form of negotiation, aimed at reaching consensus because of the practical consequences of using a word with one content rather than another. This paper presents an alternative motive for expressing and pursuing metalinguistic disagreement. In using words with given criteria, we betray our location amongst social categories or groups. Because of this, metalinguistic disagreement can be used as a stage upon which t…Read more
  •  148
    This is the English (and extended version) of an interview originally published in Estonian in October 2018. In the interview, Simpson summarizes a particular way of defending the practice of no-platforming. The varying appeal of different defences of the practice in different socio-historical contexts (i.e. the UK/US versus a post-Soviet country such as Estonia) is discussed also.
  •  22
    This paper is about the shaping of student workload preferences by educational institution design, and how this creates distrust by staff in those preferences when staff are asked to use those preferences in re-designing the courses they teach. It is a case study of the construction of student workload preferences by the context of a particular higher education institution. In more detail: Failures to standardize the work required to receive equal credit points from different courses make credit…Read more
  •  58
    Occasion-Sensitivity: Selected Essays (review)
    Disputatio 4 (31): 309-315. 2011.
    This is not a critical review of Travis' book. It's an attempt to summarize the key thesis (occasion-sensitivity) in a way that makes the book accessible and distinguishes it from similar looking theses (such as relevance theory and truth-conditional pragmatics).
  •  247
    Infallibilism and Easy Counter-Examples
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 95 (4): 475-499. 2018.
    Infallibilism is commonly rejected because it is apparently subject to easy counter-examples. I describe a strategy that infallibilists can use to resist this objection. Because the sentences used in the counter-examples to express evidence and belief are context-sensitive, the infallibilist can insist that such counter-examples trade on a vacillation between different readings of these sentences. I describe what difficulties await those who try to produce counter-examples against which the prop…Read more
  •  60
    A Purpose for Context Sensitivity
    Dissertation, King’s College London. 2012.
    This thesis has two parts. In Part I there is an argument for the conclusion that a linguistic phenomenon known as (radical) context-sensitivity is to be expected given the limitations of those who use language to reason about empirical states of affairs. The phenomenon arises as a consequence of a process that must be performed to use language to reason validly. In Part II it is explained why the phenomenon, understood in light of the discussion of Part I, does not threaten the possibility of c…Read more
  •  232
    Epistemologists typically assume that the acquisition of knowledge from testimony is not threatened at the stage at which audiences interpret what proposition a speaker has asserted. Attention is instead typically paid to the epistemic status of a belief formed on the basis of testimony that it is assumed has the same content as the speaker’s assertion. Andrew Peet has pioneered an account of how linguistic context sensitivity can threaten the assumption. His account locates the threat in contex…Read more
  •  276
    Entailments are Cancellable
    Ratio 30 (3): 288-304. 2017.
    Several philosophers have recently claimed that if a proposition is cancellable from an uttered sentence then that proposition is not entailed by that uttered sentence. The claim should be a familiar one. It has become a standard device in the philosopher's tool-kit. I argue that this claim is false. There is a kind of entailment—which I call “modal entailment”—that is context-sensitive and, because of this, cancellable. So cancellability does not show that a proposition is not entailed by an ut…Read more
  •  251
    According to telling based views of testimony (TBVs), B has reason to believe that p when A tells B that p because A thereby takes public responsibility for B's subsequent belief that p. Andrew Peet presents a new argument against TBVs. He argues that insofar as A uses context-sensitive expressions to express p, A doesn't take public responsibility for B's belief that p. Since context-sensitivity is widespread, the kind of reason TBVs say we have to believe what we're told, is not widespread. Pe…Read more
  •  176
    Using "not tasty" at the dinner table
    Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 24 (3). 2017.
    John MacFarlane argues against objectivism about “tasty”/”not tasty” in the following way. If objectivism were true then, given that speakers use “tasty”/”not tasty” in accordance with a rule, TP, speakers would be using an evidently unreliable method to form judgements and make claims about what is tasty. Since this is implausible, objectivism must be false. In this paper, I describe a context in which speakers deviate from TP. I argue that MacFarlane's argument against objectivism fails when a…Read more
  •  445
    A Liberal Anti-Porn Feminism?
    Social Theory and Practice 44 (1): 21-48. 2018.
    In the 1980s and 1990s, a series of attempts were made to put into U.S. law a civil rights ordinance that would make it possible to sue the makers and distributors of pornography for doing so (under certain conditions). One defence of such legislation has come to be called "the free speech argument against pornography." Philosophers Rae Langton, Jennifer Hornsby and Caroline West have supposed that this defence of the legislation can function as a liberal defence of the legislation: in particula…Read more
  •  258
    Communicating by doing something else
    In Tamara Dobler & John Collins (eds.), The Philosophy of Charles Travis: Language, Thought, and Perception, Oxford University Press. pp. 135-154. 2018.
    It's sometimes thought that context-invariant linguistic meaning must be a character (a function from context types to contents) i.e. that linguistic meaning must determine how the content of an expression is fixed in context. This is thought because if context-invariant linguistic meaning were not a character then communication would not be possible. In this paper, I explain how communication could proceed even if context-invariant linguistic meaning were not a character.
  •  69
    Off-target responses to occasion-sensitivity
    Dialectica 68 (4): 499-523. 2014.
    In the literature on linguistic context-sensitivity, a recurrent move has been made with the intention of attacking Charles Travis's occasion-sensitivity. The move is to provide a semantic analysis of the meaning of an expression which makes the content of that expression context sensitive but without providing any reason to think that the meaning of the expression is a character. I argue that this move is off-target. Such proposals are entirely consistent with occasion-sensitivity and so don't …Read more
  •  309
    Elaboration and intuitions of disagreement
    Philosophical Studies 174 (4): 861-875. 2017.
    Mark Richard argues for truth-relativism about claims made using gradable adjectives. He argues that truth-relativism is the best explanation of two kinds of linguistic data, which I call: true cross-contextual reports and infelicitous denials of conflict. Richard claims that such data are generated by an example that he discusses at length. However, the consensus is that these linguistic data are illusory because they vanish when elaborations are added to examples of the same kind as Richard’s …Read more
  •  105
    How to Silence Content with Porn, Context and Loaded Questions
    European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2): 498-522. 2016.
    Using a combination of semantic theory and findings from conversation analysis, this paper describes a way in which questions, which incorporate presuppositions that are false, when used in a courtroom cross-examination wherein there are certain turn-taking rules, rights and restrictions, stop a rape victim from expressing the content that she wants to express in that context. This kind of silencing contrasts with other kinds of silencing that consist in the disabling of a speech act's force, ra…Read more
  •  133
    Kuhn on Incommensurability and Theory Choice
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4): 571-579. 2013.
    The incommensurability of two theories seems to problematize theory comparisons, which allow for the selection of the better of the two theories. If so, it becomes puzzling how the quality of theories can improve with time, i.e. how science can progress across changes in incommensurable theories. I argue that in papers published in the 1990s, Kuhn provided a novel way to resolve this apparent tension between incommensurability and scientific progress. He put forward an account of their compatibi…Read more
  •  39
    How to Use (Ordinary) Language Offensively
    Nordic Wittgenstein Review 1 (1): 55-80. 2012.
    One can attack a philosophical claim by identifying a misuse of the language used to state it. I distinguish between two varieties of this strategy: one belonging to Norman Malcolm and the other to Ludwig Wittgenstein. The former is flawed and easily dismissible as misled linguistic conservatism. It muddies the name of ordinary language philosophy. I argue that the latter avoids this flaw. To make perspicuous the kind of criticism of philosophical claims that the second variety makes available, …Read more