•  5
    Meaning change you can make
    Synthese 203 (6): 1-21. 2024.
    Standard metasemantic frameworks render word meanings resistant to the control of ordinary speakers, and hinder our ability to exercise sovereignty over the denotations of words. The literature suggests three main responses to the problem: views on which ordinary denotational interventions cannot cause changes to semantic reality, views on which we should drop the metasemantic premises that generate the difficulty, and views on which denotational interventions boil down to operations on a non-re…Read more
  •  10
    Inherent and probabilistic naturalness
    Philosophical Studies 181 (2): 369-385. 2024.
    Standard accounts hold that regularities of behavior must be arbitrary to constitute a convention. Yet, there is growing consensus that conventionality is a graded phenomenon, and that conventions can be more or less natural. I develop an account of natural conventions that distinguishes two basic dimensions of conventional naturalness: a probabilistic dimension and an inherent one. A convention is probabilistically natural if it is likely to emerge in a population of agents, and inherently natu…Read more
  •  36
    Notions of arbitrariness
    Mind and Language. forthcoming.
    Arbitrariness is a distinctive feature of human language, and a growing body of comparative work is investigating its presence in animal communication. But what is arbitrariness, exactly? We propose to distinguish four notions of semiotic arbitrariness: a notion of opaque association between sign forms and semiotic functions, one of sign-function mapping optionality, one of acquisition-dependent sign-function coupling, and one of lack of motivatedness. We characterize these notions, illustrate t…Read more
  •  19
    The first words ever spoken
    Synthese 201 (5): 1-17. 2023.
    I argue that ontologies of words should engage with the emergence of lexical communication in the deep history of our line. It may seem that the evolutionary origins of words are orthogonal to the analytical project of establishing the defining features of wordhood, and that an adequate ontology of words requires nothing more than an observation of the properties of modern languages. I suggest instead that models of the initial stages of language evolution can offer valuable insights into the ma…Read more
  •  56
    Notions of arbitrariness
    Mind and Language 38 (4): 1120-1137. 2022.
    Arbitrariness is a distinctive feature of human language, and a growing body of comparative work is investigating its presence in animal communication. But what is arbitrariness, exactly? We propose to distinguish four notions of semiotic arbitrariness: a notion of opaque association between sign forms and semiotic functions, one of sign‐function mapping optionality, one of acquisition‐dependent sign‐function coupling, and one of lack of motivatedness. We characterize these notions, illustrate t…Read more
  •  47
    Śaṅkaran Monism and the Limits of Thought
    The Monist 105 (1): 76-91. 2022.
    A growing movement in contemporary philosophy of mind is looking back on Indian thought to gain new insights into the problem of consciousness. This paper weighs the prospects of thinking about mentality through the lenses of Śaṅkaran Advaita Vedānta. To start, I outline micropsychist and cosmopsychist accounts of consciousness, introduce Śaṅkaran monism, and describe a potential reason of attraction of the framework over micropsychist and cosmopsychist alternatives. I then show that the elimina…Read more
  •  25
    Proportional dispositional predicates
    Synthese 199 (5-6): 12363-12383. 2021.
    Ordinary disposition ascriptions appear to form a semantically heterogeneous class of clauses some of which can be straightforwardly analyzed as possibility claims, and some of which resist a simple quantificational treatment. For example, while “The block is breakable” is true if the block breaks at a relevant possible world, for “The block is fragile” to be true it doesn’t suffice that the block breaks at one of the worlds that matter to the evaluation of the ascription, since the block could …Read more
  •  297
    Semantic supervenience
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. 2021.
    It is common belief that semantic properties supervene on non-semantic properties: no two possible worlds can be non-semantic duplicates and fail to be semantic duplicates. The view enjoys somewhat of an orthodoxy status in contemporary philosophy of language and metaphysics, and is often assumed without argument. Yet, work by Stephen Kearns and Ofra Magidor has claimed that it is vulnerable to a variant of the classical arguments against the supervenience of the phenomenal on the physical. This…Read more
  •  1027
    Lexical innovation and the periphery of language
    Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (1): 39-63. 2021.
    Lexical innovations (e.g., zero-derivations coined on the fly by a speaker) seem to bear semantic content. Yet, such expressions cannot bear semantic content as a function of the conventions of meaning in force in the language, since they are not part of its lexicon. This is in tension with the commonplace view that the semantic content of lexical expressions is constituted by linguistic conventions. The conventionalist has two immediate ways out of the tension. The first is to preserve the conv…Read more
  •  712
    A pluralistic theory of wordhood
    Mind and Language 36 (4): 592-609. 2020.
    What are words and how should we individuate them? There are two main answers on the philosophical market. For some, words are bundles of structural-functional features defining a unique performance profile. For others, words are non-eternal continuants individuated by their causal-historical ancestry. These conceptions offer competing views of the nature of words, and it seems natural to assume that at most one of them can capture the essence of wordhood. This paper makes a case for pluralism a…Read more
  •  663
    Hearing meanings: the revenge of context
    Synthese 198 (6): 5229-5252. 2019.
    According to the perceptual view of language comprehension, listeners typically recover high-level linguistic properties such as utterance meaning without inferential work. The perceptual view is subject to the Objection from Context: since utterance meaning is massively context-sensitive, and context-sensitivity requires cognitive inference, the perceptual view is false. In recent work, Berit Brogaard provides a challenging reply to this objection. She argues that in language comprehension cont…Read more
  •  68
    Phonetic Segments and the Organization of Speech
    Philosophy of Science 86 (2): 304-324. 2019.
    According to mainstream linguistic phonetics, speech can be modeled as a string of discrete sound segments or “phones” drawn from a universal phonetic inventory. Recent work has argued that a mature phonetics should refrain from theorizing about speech and speech processing using sound segments, and that the phone concept should be eliminated from linguistic theory. The paper lays out the tenets of the phone methodology and evaluates its prospects in light of the eliminativist arguments. I claim…Read more
  •  1404
    Priority Cosmopsychism and the Advaita Vedānta
    Philosophy East and West 69 (1): 130-142. 2019.
    The combination of panpsychism and priority monism leads to priority cosmopsychism, the view that the consciousness of individual sentient creatures is derivative of an underlying cosmic consciousness. It has been suggested that contemporary priority cosmopsychism parallels central ideas in the Advaita Vedānta tradition. The paper offers a critical evaluation of this claim. It argues that the Advaitic account of consciousness cannot be characterized as an instance of priority cosmopsychism, poin…Read more
  •  60
    Word meaning
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2015.
  •  38
    Pronominal anaphora, coreference, and closed quotation marks
    Mind and Language 34 (3): 339-356. 2019.
    Consider the following sentence: “Mary meditated on the sentence ‘Bill is a good friend’ and concluded that he was a good friend.” It is standardly assumed that in sentences of this sort, containing so‐called “closed” quotations, the expressions occurring between quotation marks are mentioned and do not take their ordinary referents. The quoted NP “Bill” refers, if anything, to the name ‘Bill,’ not to the individual Bill. At the same time, the pronoun “he,” apparently anaphoric on quoted “Bill,”…Read more
  •  44
    Knowledge Indicative and Knowledge Conductive Consensus
    Journal of the Philosophy of History 7 (2): 162-182. 2013.
    A traditional proposition in the philosophy and the sociology of science wants that consensus between specialists of a scientific discipline is a reliable indicator of their access to genuine knowledge. In an interesting reassessment of this principle, Aviezer Tucker has analyzed the implications and the significance of this thesis in relation to historical research, and has established that parts of the historiographical community that display high degrees of consensus among their practitioners…Read more
  •  44
    Lexical Meaning in Truth-Conditional Semantics
    Diametros 39 182-202. 2014.
    The paper offers a critical review of the role played by lexical meaning in the earlier stages of philosophical semantics and truth-conditional semantics. I shall address, both historically and theoretically, the relative neglect of lexical semantics within these fields, and argue that the approach to word meaning fostered in extensional frameworks is overall inconsistent with the customary assumption that truth-theoretic semantics can be considered a semantic theory proprio sensu
  •  33
    Casati, Di Bona and Dokic have recently argued that sounds are identical to their event sources. In this paper, I review the arguments they have offered in support of this view, show that their claims fail to defend it in a completely persuasive and conclusive fashion, and present some new questions for their thesis.
  •  44
    Minimal Semantics and Word Sense Disambiguation
    Disputatio 6 (39): 147-171. 2014.
    Emma Borg has defined semantic minimalism as the thesis that the literal content of well-formed declarative sentences is truth-evaluable, fully determined by their lexico-syntactic features, and recoverable by language users with no need to access non-linguistic information. The task of this article is threefold. First, I shall raise a criticism to Borg’s minimalism based on how speakers disambiguate homonymy. Second, I will explore some ways Borg might respond to my argument and maintain that n…Read more
  •  60
    Mental Files and the Lexicon
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (2): 463-472. 2016.
    This paper presents the hypothesis that the representational repertoire underpinning our ability to process the lexical items of a natural language can be modeled as a system of mental files. To start, I clarify the basic phenomena that an account of lexical knowledge should be able to elucidate. Then, I propose to evaluate whether the mental files theory can be brought to bear on an account of the representational format of lexical knowledge by modeling mental words as recognitional files.
  •  496
    Originalism about Word Types
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (2): 126-133. 2016.
    According to Originalism, word types are non-eternal continuants which are individuated by their causal-historical lineage and have a unique possible time of origination. This view collides with the intuition that individual words can be added to the lexicon of a language at different times, and generates other problematic consequences. The paper shows that such undesired results can be accommodated without abandoning Originalism.