• Billboards, bombs and shotgun weddings
    Synthese 166 (2): 251-279. 2009.
    It's a presupposition of a very common way of thinking about contextsensitivity in language that the semantic contribution made by a bit of context-sensitive vocabulary is sensitive only to features of the speaker's situation at the time of utterance. I argue that this is false, and that we need a theory of context-dependence that allows for content to depend not just on the features of the utterance's origin, but also on features of its destination. There are cases in which a single utterance s…Read more
  • Insincerity
    Noûs 48 (3): 496-520. 2014.
    This paper argues for an account of insincerity in speech according to which an utterance is insincere if and only if it communicates something that does not correspond to the speaker's conscious attitudes. Two main topics are addressed: the relation between insincerity and the saying-meaning distinction, and the mental attitude underlying insincere speech. The account is applied to both assertoric and non-assertoric utterances of declarative sentences, and to utterances of non-declarative sente…Read more
  • What is Said?
    Noûs 50 (4): 759-793. 2016.
    It is sometimes argued that certain sentences of natural language fail to express truth conditional contents. Standard examples include e.g. Tipper is ready and Steel is strong enough. In this paper, we provide a novel analysis of truth conditional meaning using the notion of a question under discussion. This account explains why these types of sentences are not, in fact, semantically underdetermined, provides a principled analysis of the process by which natural language sentences can come to h…Read more
  • Contextualism, metaphor, and what is said
    Mind and Language 21 (3). 2006.
    On a familiar and prima facie plausible view of metaphor, speakers who speak metaphorically say one thing in order to mean another. A variety of theorists have recently challenged this view; they offer criteria for distinguishing what is said from what is merely meant, and argue that these support classifying metaphor within 'what is said'. I consider four such criteria, and argue that when properly understood, they support the traditional classification instead. I conclude by sketching how we m…Read more
  • Putting Thoughts to Work: Concepts, Systematicity, and Stimulus‐Independence
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2): 275-311. 2009.
    I argue that we can reconcile two seemingly incompatible traditions for thinking about concepts. On the one hand, many cognitive scientists assume that the systematic redeployment of representational abilities suffices for having concepts. On the other hand, a long philosophical tradition maintains that language is necessary for genuinely conceptual thought. I argue that on a theoretically useful and empirically plausible concept of 'concept', it is necessary and sufficient for conceptual though…Read more
  • Instrumental Reasoning in Nonhuman Animals
    Elisabeth Camp and Eli Shupe
    In Kristin Andrews & Jake Beck (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds. pp. 100-118. 2017.
  • Uniqueness in definite noun phrases
    Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (3): 287-350. 2003.
  • A puzzle about meaning and communication
    Noûs 44 (2): 340-371. 2010.
  • Most theories of concepts take concepts to be structured bodies of information used in categorization and inference. This paper argues for a version of atomism, on which concepts are unstructured symbols. However, traditional Fodorian atomism is falsified by polysemy and fails to provide an account of how concepts figure in cognition. This paper argues that concepts are generative pointers, that is, unstructured symbols that point to memory locations where cognitively useful bodies of informatio…Read more
  • Metaphor and that certain 'je ne sais quoi'
    Philosophical Studies 129 (1). 2006.
    Philosophers have traditionally inclined toward one of two opposite extremes when it comes to metaphor. On the one hand, partisans of metaphor have tended to believe that metaphors do something different in kind from literal utterances; it is a ‘heresy’, they think, either to deny that what metaphors do is genuinely cognitive, or to assume that it can be translated into literal terms. On the other hand, analytic philosophers have typically denied just this: they tend to assume that if metaphors …Read more
  • Representing knowledge
    The Philosophical Review 130 (1): 97-143. 2021.
    A speaker's use of a declarative sentence in a context has two effects: it expresses a proposition and represents the speaker as knowing that proposition. This essay is about how to explain the second effect. The standard explanation is act-based. A speaker is represented as knowing because their use of the declarative in a context tokens the act-type of assertion and assertions represent knowledge in what's asserted. I propose a semantic explanation on which declaratives covertly host a "know…Read more
  • The coordinated attack scenario and the electronic mail game are two paradoxes of common knowledge. In simple mathematical models of these scenarios, the agents represented by the models can coordinate only if they have common knowledge that they will. As a result, the models predict that the agents will not coordinate in situations where it would be rational to coordinate. I argue that we should resolve this conflict between the models and facts about what it would be rational to do by rejectin…Read more
  • Uncommon Knowledge
    Mind 127 (508): 1069-1105. 2018.
    Some people commonly know a proposition just in case they all know it, they all know that they all know it, they all know that they all know that they all know it, and so on. They commonly believe a proposition just in case they all believe it, they all believe that they all believe it, they all believe that they all believe that they all believe it, and so on. A long tradition in economic theory, theoretical computer science, linguistics and philosophy has held that people have some approximati…Read more
  • Names Are Predicates
    Philosophical Review 124 (1): 59-117. 2015.
    One reason to think that names have a predicate-type semantic value is that they naturally occur in count-noun positions: ‘The Michaels in my building both lost their keys’; ‘I know one incredibly sharp Cecil and one that's incredibly dull’. Predicativism is the view that names uniformly occur as predicates. Predicativism flies in the face of the widely accepted view that names in argument position are referential, whether that be Millian Referentialism, direct-reference theories, or even Fregea…Read more
  • Semantics and metasemantics in the context of generative grammar
    In Alexis Burgess & Brett Sherman (eds.), Metasemantics: New Essays on the Foundations of Meaning, Oxford University Press. pp. 17-54. 2014.
  • A Gricean Theory of Malaprops
    Mind and Language 32 (4): 446-462. 2017.
    Gricean intentionalists hold that what a speaker says and means by a linguistic utterance is determined by the speaker's communicative intention. On this view, one cannot really say anything without meaning it as well. Conventionalists argue, however, that malapropisms provide powerful counterexamples to this claim. I present two arguments against the conventionalist and sketch a new Gricean theory of speech errors, called the misarticulation theory. On this view, malapropisms are understood as …Read more
  • Entertaining alternatives: Disjunctions as modals
    Natural Language Semantics 13 (4): 383-410. 2005.
  • Names in strange places
    Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (5): 429-472. 2017.
    This paper is about how to interpret and evaluate purported evidence for predicativism about proper names. I aim to point out some underappreciated thorny issues and to offer both predicativists and non-predicativists some advice about how best to pursue their respective projects. I hope to establish three related claims: that non-predicativists have to posit relatively exotic, though not entirely implausible, polysemic mechanisms to capture the range of data that predicativists have introduced …Read more
  • Logic and Semantics for Imperatives
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (4): 617-664. 2014.
    In this paper I will develop a view about the semantics of imperatives, which I term Modal Noncognitivism, on which imperatives might be said to have truth conditions (dispositionally, anyway), but on which it does not make sense to see them as expressing propositions (hence does not make sense to ascribe to them truth or falsity). This view stands against “Cognitivist” accounts of the semantics of imperatives, on which imperatives are claimed to express propositions, which are then enlisted in …Read more
  • A Preference Semantics for Imperatives
    Semantics and Pragmatics 20. 2020.
    Imperative sentences like Dance! do not seem to represent the world. Recent modal analyses challenge this idea, but its intuitive and historical appeal remain strong. This paper presents three new challenges for a non-representational analysis, showing that the obstacles facing it are even steeper than previously appreciated. I will argue that the only way for the non-representationalist to meet these three challenges is to adopt a dynamic semantics. Such a dynamic semantics is proposed here: im…Read more
  • The structure of communicative acts
    Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (2): 425-474. 2021.
    Utterances of natural language sentences can be used to communicate not just contents, but also forces. This paper examines this topic from a cross-linguistic perspective on sentential mood. Recent work in this area focuses on conversational dynamics: the three sentence types can be associated with distinctive kinds of conversational effects called sentential forces, modeled as three kinds of updates to the discourse context. This paper has two main goals. First, it provides two arguments, on em…Read more
  • There are at least two threads in our thought and talk about rationality, both practical and theoretical. In one sense, to be rational is to respond correctly to the reasons one has. Call this substantive rationality. In another sense, to be rational is to be coherent, or to have the right structural relations hold between one’s mental states, independently of whether those attitudes are justified. Call this structural rationality. According to the standard view, structural rationality is associ…Read more