Background and Aim


This is a research initiation workshop for the Norwegian Research Council SAMKUL Network Grant, New Frontiers of Speech: Remaking Philosophy of Language for the Information Age


The aim of this workshop is to explore some implications of the way speech has changed in the information age for various theoretical frameworks and approaches within philosophy of language. For example, social media has created a variety of ways to do things with words that did not exist when the study of speech acts was inaugurated. How well do these actions, such as sharing, tweeting, liking, etc., fit into existing taxonomies of speech acts? What implications do they have for various theories of speech acts? Has social media changed the taxonomy of speech acts and the nature of those acts to such an extent as to require wholesale revision of speech act theory? On the semantic side, online speech has introduced new referential devices into language, such as embedded hyperlinks and hashtags. How should these be treated semantically? What implications do they have for the sincerity conditions of assertions made by means of them? More broadly, the kinds of contexts and interactions common in online communication seem to change the socio-cognitive, pragmatic landscape of communication. For instance, when text on a message board stays online for decades, or reaches different cultures, or is altered by a human or non-human mediator, what can or do hearers infer about the original speaker’s intentions? As larger shares of our speech occur in this way, how does this change the socio-cognitive nature of communication? Can the various theories of communication (Grice, Relevance Theory, etc.) accommodate such changes? We will bring together a small group of philosophers of language to reflect on these and related questions about the application and suitability of our current theoretical resources to evolving domains of speech.


Thursday 7 February

  • 13.30-13.45 Opening
  • 13.45-15.00 Torfinn Huvenes (Umeå): “A Puzzle About Accommodation”
  • 15.15-16.30 Nat Hansen (Reading): "Metalinguistic Proposals"

Friday 8 February