Department of Philosophy

Mind, Language, World: boundary-crossing research in analytic philosophy

The Mind, Language, World (MLW) group is characterized by boundary-crossing research in central areas of analytic philosophy. The group aims to produce research distinctive for its philosophical literacy and willingness, in tackling particular questions, to engage with a variety of philosophical areas and approaches.

The MLW group includes, Corine BessonAnthony Booth,  Michael Morris and Sarah Sawyer. Browse the headings below to explore their work.

Normativity, belief, truth

The central question guiding this research theme concerns how, if at all, we can evaluate belief. Is correct belief necessarily true belief? And if so, does it follow that we can believe only for epistemic reasons? An important line of thought underscoring these questions is the idea that propositional attitudes are, and belief in particular is, constituted or essentially governed by certain normative principles.

Michael Morris’s The Good and the True is a pioneering piece in this area, and one of the first pieces of work to develop this ‘normativist’ stance toward belief. Tony Booth’s work constitutes a response to a general normativism about belief and an argument for why we can appropriately evaluate belief from a non-epistemic (especially moral) perspective.

Relevant publications

Signs, representation and experience

The aim of this research theme is to question the almost universal view that words are signs. This assumption shapes not only approaches to the ontology of language but also our conception of what linguistic meaning is. It determines our view of the relation between language and the world and the relation between language and thought, and affects the way in which we understand debates about realism and anti-realism. It can also be seen to lie behind the view that the content of perceptual experience is conceptual.

Michael Morris has begun work on the issue in a number of papers, as well as in his book on the Tractatus. That work is now being pursued more directly in a monograph called The Myth of the Sign.

Relevant publications

  • Morris, Michael (ms) The Myth of the Sign.
  • Morris, Michael Realism and representation: the case of Rembrandt’s hat, forthcoming in the European Journal of Philosophy. ISSN 0966-8373
  • Morris, Michael (2012) The meaning of music. Monist, 95 (4). pp. 556-586. ISSN 0026-9662
  • Morris, Michael (2010) The idea of words as signs. In: Philosophy of language and linguistics. Ontos Verlag, Germany. ISBN 9783868380705
  • Morris, Michael (2009) The question of idealism in McDowell. Philosophical Topics, 37 (1). ISSN 0276-2080
  • Morris, Michael (2008) Routledge philosophy guide book to Wittgenstein and the Tractatus. Routledge philosophy guidebooks . Routledge, Oxford. ISBN 9780415357210 (hbk.) 9780415357227 (pbk.) 9780203003091 (ebook)
  • Morris, Michael (2006) An introduction to the philosophy of language. Cambridge introductions to philosophy. Cambridge University Press, New York. ISBN 9780521603119
  • Morris, Michael (2006) Akrasia in the Protagoras and the Republic. Phronesis, 51 (3). pp. 195-229. ISSN 0031-8868
  • Morris, Michael (2005) Realism beyond correspondence. In: Truthmakers: the contemporary debate. Mind Association Occasional Series . Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, pp. 49-65. ISBN 9780199283569
  • Morris, Michael (2000) Metaphor and philosophy: an encounter with Derrida. Philosophy 75, pp. 225–244 [link to SRO]
  • Morris, Michael (1993) The place of language. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 67, pp. 153–72
Anti-individualism and its implications

The most influential and dramatic change in philosophy of mind and language over the past fifty years has been the change from a broadly individualist to a broadly anti-individualist understanding of both.

Sarah Sawyer has worked extensively in this area, demonstrating the importance of anti-individualism not just for our understanding of mind and language, but also for our understanding of scientific theories, epistemology, moral judgement and moral motivation.

Relevant publications

Logic, language and their epistemologies

The central questions of this research theme concern the nature of truth, logical truth and logical consequence. It also looks at the interactions between semantic and logic from both a foundational and epistemological perspective. 

Relevant publications

 Philosophical Logic and Epistemology of Logic 

  • Corine Besson ‘Reasons, Norms and Reasoning: A Guide through Lewis Carroll’s Regress Argument’, The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity, Daniel Star, edd, Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).
  • Corine Besson ‘Some Remarks about Logical Truth’, special issue on Logical Consequence, M. Carrara and J. Murzi (eds.) Logique et Analyse 227 (2014): 309-331.
  • Corine Besson ‘Logical Knowledge and Ordinary Reasoning’, Philosophical Studies 158 (2012): 59-82.
  • Corine Besson ‘Understanding the Logical Constants and Dispositions to Infer’, in The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication, vol. 5, B. Armour-Garb et al. (eds.), available at: http://thebalticyearbook.org/journals/baltic/article/view/279/133 (2010): 1-24.
  • Corine Besson ‘Propositions, Dispositions and Logical Knowledge’ in Quid Est Veritas? Essays in Honour of Jonathan Barnes, A. Longo and M. Bonelli (eds.), Napoli: Bibliopolis (2010): 233-268.
  • Corine Besson ‘Logical Knowledge and Gettier Cases’, The Philosophical Quarterly, 59, 234 (2009): 1-19.
  • Michael Morris Wittgenstein and the Tractatus (Routledge, 2008), Ch 5.

 

 Semantics 

  • Corine Besson ‘The Open Future, Bivalence and Assertion’ (with Anandi Hattiangadi), Philosophical Studies, 167 (2014): 251-271.
  • Michael Morris Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (CUP, 2007)
  • Michael Morris 'The Idea of Signs' (in Stalmasczyk, ed., Philosophy of Language and Linguistics, Vol II (Ontos verlag, 2010).
  • Sarah Sawyer (2015) ‘The Importance of Fictional Properties’, in S. Brock & A. Everett (eds) Fictional Objects (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Sarah Sawyer (2012) ‘Empty Names’ in D. Graff Fara & G. Russell (eds) Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language.
  • Sarah Sawyer, (2010) 'The Modified Predicate Theory of Proper Names’, in S. Sawyer (ed.) New Waves in Philosophy of Language (Palgrave MacMillan Press).

 

 Crossover between semantics and epistemology 

  • Corine Besson ‘Abominable Conjunctions and Gricean Cooperation’, to appear in M. Frauchiger and W.K. Essler (eds.), volume on Fred Dretske in the Lauener Library of Analytical Philosophy, The Hague: De Gruyter.
  • Sarah Sawyer (2015) ‘Contrastive Self-Knowledge and the McKinsey Paradox’, in S. Goldberg (ed.) Externalism and Skepticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Sarah Sawyer (2015) ‘Contrastivism and Anti-Individualism Part II: A Further Reply to Aikin and Dabay’, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 2: 10-12.
  • Sarah Sawyer (2014) ‘Contrastivism and Anti-Individualism: A Response to Aikin and Dabay’, Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 9: 1-6.
  • Sarah Sawyer (2014) ‘Contrastive Self-Knowledge’, Social Epistemology 28: 139-152.
  • Sarah Sawyer (2006)'Externalism, Apriority and Transmission of Warrant' in T. Marvan (ed.) What Determines Content? - the Internalism / Externalism Dispute (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press)
  • Sarah Sawyer (1999) 'My Language Disquotes', Analysis Vol. 59:3 pp. 206-211.

 

 Logic and semantics of natural kind terms