Linguistic Meaning: Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics Philosophy Conference

The Queen’s College, University of Oxford, in collaboration with ConceptLab, Oslo.

We invite submissions of long abstracts (1000-1500 words) for presentation at a conference on
three facets of linguistic meaning:

  • 1. Metaphysics of meaning and metasemantics
  • 2. Epistemology of meaning and linguistic understanding
  • 3. Ethical and ideological dimensions of meaning, and conceptual engineering.

Submissions may fall within any of the three strands; we especially welcome contributions
that address interactions between two or more. Papers should be suitable for 45 minute

This conference aims to bring new work in the metaphysics, epistemology and ethics of
meaning into dialogue, revisiting some long-standing and foundational questions in light of
the resurgence and development of the idea that a philosopher’s task is to modify aspects of her
language for social or theoretical ends, not merely to describe it. An overarching theme of the
conference is the question how speakers are related, practically and epistemically, to the
languages at their command, and in particular to facts about meaning and conceptual
content. Submissions may therefore address the following or related questions:

What is linguistic meaning? How is it determined? Can individuals or communities of
speakers change it at will?
How does semantic change occur, and what does it entail?
What is the relationship between meaning and social or natural kinds? Are these amenable to
deliberate reform? If so, how?
Is a speaker’s language independent of her linguistic competence?
Is meaning in any sense mind-dependent? How does linguistic meaning relate to thought and
mental representation?
In what sense, if any, do speakers have knowledge of language?
In what sense, if any, is linguistic knowledge or understanding required for communication?
Is linguistic competence intrinsically or distinctively rational? If so, how?
Is linguistic understanding knowledge-that or knowledge-how? If the latter, might it
nevertheless be propositional knowledge, as intellectualists contend?
Is linguistic/conceptual ethics well motivated, theoretically and/or practically?
Is the viability of linguistic/conceptual ethics compatible with semantic externalism?
What makes one meaning/concept better than another? Are certain meanings/concepts
more eligible, or fitting for use, than others?

Invited Speakers:
Ian Rumfitt (Oxford)
Imogen Dickie (Toronto)
Guy Longworth (Warwick)
Rae Langton (Cambridge)
John Collins (UEA)
Herman Cappelen (Oslo)

To submit:
Please email your anonymised abstract (in word or PDF) to Matt Mckeever at with the subject line ‘MEANING SUBMISSION’. In the body of
the email, please list your full name, affiliation, the title of your paper and which of the
strands your contribution falls into, using abbreviations ‘META’, ‘EPIST’ , ‘ETHICS’.
(submissions at the intersection of two or more strands should be marked with all the relevant

Please email with any other questions about the

Submission Deadline: 15th December 2018
Notification of acceptance by: 1st February 2019

All speakers will be awarded up to £300 towards expenses, and invited to a conference dinner
at The Queen’s College.

Registration at the conference is free of charge but space is limited; to register email with the subject title ‘REGISTER MEANING
CONFERENCE’, listing your name, affiliation, and any dietary requirements. Registration
closes on Friday 12th April.


Herman Cappelen , Joey Pollock, Andrew Peet and Natalia Waights Hickman (Oxford)
Published Sep. 11, 2018 10:42 AM - Last modified Sep. 11, 2018 10:42 AM