I present two cases in which the reference of a name is indeterminate.One of these cases highlights the need for clarity on a distinction between the conventional facts which govern name bearing properties, and the causal facts which govern the semantic contribution of an utterance of a name. The other case provides some reason for thinking that a standard ambiguity theory of names, on which there are lexically-ambiguous names individuated by particular referents, is mistaken, and should be rejected in favor of a theory which treats names more like indexicals.
I argue that we are justified in acting on an inductive inference because that inference provides justification for a belief in a generic, rather than a universal generalization. I argue that this account supports, rather than undermines, a Bayesian account of inductive inference. Induction from confirming instances of a generic to a generic is part of a reasoning instinct that is typically (but not always) correct, and allows us to approximate the predictions that formal epistemology would make.
The following argument is widely assumed to be invalid: there is a pain in my finger; my finger is in my mouth; therefore, there is a pain in my mouth. The apparent invalidity of this argument has recently been used to motivate the conclusion that pains are not spatial entities. We argue that this is a mistake. We do so by drawing attention to the metaphysics of pains and holes and provide a framework for their location which both vindicates the argument’s validity and explains why it appears invalid. To this end, we show that previously proposed explanations for the apparent invalidity of the argument – one appealing to intensional contexts, the other to multiple senses of ‘in’ – fail. Moreover, we show that our account accommodates and explains seemingly opposing linguistic data. We conclude that the ‘pain-in-mouth argument’ does not undermine the view that pains are spatial entities, nor does it support a bodily conception of pain.
"Assertion and Discursive Normativity"
When a speaker asserts that p, they take on certain commitments to the truth of p. The nature of these commitments gives us important evidence about what norms govern assertion. I investigate similar commitments that speakers take on when they perform illocutionary acts of any kind, and what these tell us about the norms governing speech in general.
"Linguistic Agency and Evaluation"
Language use is a kind of intentional action, and as a resultsubjects language users to evaluation across a number of normative domains(moral, epistemic, aesthetic). In this paper, I explore the evaluative standardsassociated with our linguistic agency. I explain what it takes to be responsiblefor something relative to an evaluative or normative domain.
"This Paper Might Change Your Mind" (with Josh Dever).
Linguistic intervention in rational decision-making is captured in terms of information change. Cases that look like changes in value functions are actually changes in information. How do expressions with non-informational content -- like epistemic modals -- intervene in rational decision making? We show how to model rational decision change without information change: replace a standard conception of value (on which the value of a set of worlds reduces to values of individual worlds in the set) with a conception of value on which the value of a set of worlds is determined by a selection function that picks out a generic member world.