Fintan Mallory - Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy

Fintan joined IFIKK in September 2021. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from King’s College, London, as well as an MPhil in Linguistics from Trinity College Dublin and an MLitt in Philosophy, from the University of St Andrews.

What are you going to work with at IFIKK?

I’m connected to Rachel Sterken’s project, New Frontiers of Speech. My own research concerns how we make sense of chatbots. According to dominant theories of metasemantics - theories that tell us what is required for words and utterances to have meaning - the outputs of chatbots should be meaningless. Chatbots and ‘artificial intelligences’ don’t have communicative intentions, they don’t follow linguistic conventions, and they aren’t causally linked up to the world in the same way that people are and they don’t understand the strings they produce. Nonetheless, we engage with these systems on a daily basis and can gain knowledge from doing so. Sometimes it may be more reasonable to trust the ‘testimony’ of Siri or Alexa than to trust a fellow human. My research is aimed at reconciling these two observations where they can be reconciled and getting clear on where they conflict.

Can you tell us a bit about your research interests?

I’m interested in what it means to know a language, the relationship between language and thought more generally, and how language mediates the relationship between mind and world even more generally.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I read philosophy and play a bit of music. I’m currently trying to teach my cat to play chess with limited success.

Published Jan. 17, 2022 1:41 PM - Last modified Jan. 17, 2022 1:41 PM