• Speech Act Theoretic Semantic
    Dissertation, CUNY. 2014.
    I defend the view that linguistic meaning is a relation borne by an expression to a type of speech act, and that this relation holds in virtue of our overlapping communicative dispositions, and not in virtue of linguistic conventions. I argue that this theory gives the right account of the semantics–pragmatics interface and the best-available semantics for non-declarative clauses, and show that it allows for the construction of a rigorous compositional semantic theory with greater explanatory po…Read more
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    Speaker Reference and Cognitive Architecture
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 17 (3): 319-349. 2017.
    Philosophers of language inspired by Grice have long sought to show how facts about reference boil down to facts about speakers’ communicative intentions. I focus on a recent attempt by Stephen Neale, who argues that referring with an expression requires having a special kind of communicative intention—one that involves representing an occurrence of the expression as standing in some particular relation to its referent. Neale raises a problem for this account: because some referring expressions …Read more
  •  14
    A Puzzle about Context and Communicative Acts
    ProtoSociology 34 119-143. 2017.
    A context-directed theory of communicative acts is one that thinks of a communicative act as a proposal to change the context in some way. I focus on three influential examples: Robert Stalnaker’s theory of assertion, Craige Roberts’ theory of questions, and Paul Portner’s theory of directives. These theories distinguish different categories of communicative acts by distinguishing the components of context that they aim to change. I argue that the components of context they posit turn out not to…Read more
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    Speech Acts: The Contemporary Theoretical Landscape
    with Daniel Fogal and Matt Moss
    In Daniel Fogal, Matt Moss & Daniel Harris (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts, Oxford University Press. 2018.
    What makes it the case that an utterance constitutes an illocutionary act of a given kind? This is the central question of speech-act theory. Answers to it—i.e., theories of speech acts—have proliferated. Our main goal in this chapter is to clarify the logical space into which these different theories fit. We begin, in Section 1, by dividing theories of speech acts into five families, each distinguished from the others by its account of the key ingredients in illocutionary acts. Are speech acts…Read more
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    Wittgenstein’s influence on Austin’s philosophy of language
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (2): 371-395. 2018.
    Many philosophers have assumed, without argument, that Wittgenstein influenced Austin. More often, however, this is vehemently denied, especially by those who knew Austin personally. We compile and assess the currently available evidence for Wittgenstein’s influence on Austin’s philosophy of language. Surprisingly, this has not been done before in any detail. On the basis of both textual and circumstantial evidence we show that Austin’s work demonstrates substantial engagement with Wittgenstein’…Read more
  •  8
    Intentionalism versus The New Conventionalism
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 16 (2): 173-201. 2016.
    Are the properties of communicative acts grounded in the intentions with which they are performed, or in the conventions that govern them? The latest round in this debate has been sparked by Ernie Lepore and Matthew Stone, who argue that much more of communication is conventional than we thought, and that the rest isn’t really communication after all, but merely the initiation of open-ended imaginative thought. I argue that although Lepore and Stone may be right about many of the specific cases …Read more
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    New Work on Speech Acts (edited book)
    with Daniel Fogal and Matt Moss
    Oxford University Press. 2018.
    This volume presents new essays by leading figures in speech-act theory, the interdisciplinary study of things we do with words. They range over formal semantics and pragmatics, foundational issues about the nature of linguistic representation, and issues at the intersection of the philosophy of language, ethics, and political philosophy.
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