Context and Content: From Language to Thought

Krakow 24th May 2018


The aim of the workshop is to bring together scholars working on contemporary problems in the philosophy of language and mind. The central issues to be discussed include, but are not limited to:

  1. the role of context in the determination of the content expressed by natural language utterances;
  2. enrichment viewed as a pragmatic process whose function is to develop the content expressed by natural language utterances in order to arrive at fully determinate concepts and thoughts;
  3. the mental representation of content expressed by natural language utterances.


9:15-9:40 Coffee, Registration

9:40-9:45 Opening

9:45-11:00 François Recanati (Paris); Fictional Characters [invited speaker] (room 13)

11:00-11:15 Coffee Break

11:15-12:00 Daniel Milne-Plückebaum (Bielefeld); Species Predicates in Virtual Semantics (room 28)

12:00-12:45 Sebastian Petzolt (Oxford); Compounds in Context (room 28)

12:45-14:30 Lunch Break

14:30-15:45 Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska (Warsaw); Subsentential Speech Acts [invited speaker] (room 28)

15:45-16:30 Antonin Thuns (Brussels); Modulation or Substitution? (room 28)

16:30-16:45 Coffee Break

16:45-17:30 Tadeusz Ciecierski (Warsaw); Utterances, sub-utterances and token-reflexivity (room 28)

17:30-18:45 Michael Murez (Nantes); The Transparency of Mental Representations [invited speaker] (room 28)

Invited Speakers

  • François Recanati (Paris) Fictional Characters

Fictional uses are the uses of fictional proper names (e.g. ‘Sherlock Holmes’) one finds in the fiction in which the names in question are introduced. Such uses are not genuinely referential : they rest on pretence — the pretence that there is an individual the author is referring to. Metafictional uses of proper names (‘Sherlock Holmes was created by Doyle in 1887’) are genuinely referential : they refer to a cultural object, arguably a variety of abstract artefact. In the talk I will discuss a third type of use of fictional names : parafictional uses, illustrated by ‘In the story, Holmes is a clever detective who solves cases for a variety of clients, including Scotland Yard’. I will discuss two approaches to such uses, one that assimilates them to metafictional uses, and another one that assimilates them to fictional uses. I will try to steer a middle course between the two approaches, by exploiting the linguistic notion of a dot-object. In the last part of the talk I will reframe the issue in terms of mental files.

  • Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska (Warsaw) Subsentential Speech Acts

The most commonly given examples of subsentential speech acts are expressions such as “Nice dress”, “Both hands”, “Where?” spoken in such circumstances in which speakers uttering them are regarded as “making moves in a language game”, e.g., stating, asking, promising, etc. To deal with such acts I’ll suggest an account which is based on Recanati’s moderate relativism (2007). Pace Recanati and following Perry (1986) I’ll claim that, at least in the case of subsentential speech acts, we have to postulate unarticulated constituents in contents as well as in the situations of evaluation. I’ll argue that this view allows replying to the argument from connectivity, which is one of the most important arguments for the claim that such utterances – contrary to appearances – are in fact ellipses, i.e. sentential speech acts. I’ll also criticize certain aspects of Corazza’s (2012) unenriched subsentential illocutions view, which similarly relies on Perry’s insights.

  • Michael Murez (Nantes) The Transparency of Mental Representations

Concepts are said to be "transparent" if a subject can discern solely through introspection whether or not they are deploying the same one. While there has been much discussion of threats to transparency stemming from semantic externalism, another threat to transparency has garnered somewhat less attention, viz. the identification of concepts with mental representations construed as psychological vehicles. In this talk, I explain why this view of concepts is potentially at odds with transparency, provide an empirical illustration which suggests the tension is real, and critically examine attempts to defend the transparency of mental representations by appealing to metaphysical principles about their conditions of individuation. I sketch a competing "modest" view of transparency, according to which the extent to which a given class of representations is transparent is an empirical issue.

Call for papers

Apart from the talks from the invited speakers there will be a number of slots for papers to be given by participants. To apply, please send an abstract of 500 words, prepared for blind review to krzysztof.poslajko [at] The deadline for submissions is March 31st. Notification of acceptance will be made by April 10th.

Attendance is free. If you plan to attend the event without a papers, please register by sending an e-mail to katarzyna.kijania-placek [at] before May 22nd.


Institute of Philosophy, ul. Grodzka 52, Krakow


Jagiellonian Centre for Law, Language and Philosophy

Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University

Department of Legal Theory, Jagiellonian University