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Languages and Language Use

Languages and Language Use


The ER (Jessica Keiser) is an early career researcher. The focus of her research to this point has been the philosophy of language, specifically metasemantics. The research goal of the project is to develop an account of the nature of language and language use (explained below) which reduces these phenomena to facts about the actions and mental states of language users. This project builds on the ER’s existing research expertise, but with the support of the host institution (University of Leeds) and the supervisor (Professor Robert Williams), the project will broaden the purview of her research by integrating it with empirical research in linguistics and evolutionary psychology, as well as core areas of philosophy such as metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. It will advance her career at a crucial early stage by making a mark with a large scale project which offers offering novel and viable solutions to recalcitrant problems, and position her at the cutting edge of contemporary discussion.

The project has two main objectives: (1) to provide a novel metasemantic proposal, i.e., an account of what makes it the case that a community of speakers share a given language and (2) to provide a novel ontology of linguistic entities such as languages and expressions. The metasemantic proposal claims that populations speak the languages they do in virtue of conventions of locutionary action (using an utterance to direct attention). This proposal departs from the traditional conception of language as grounded in illocutionary action (using an utterance to elicit a propositional attitude), and overcomes problems concerning indeterminacy and nonliteral speech that were problematic for traditional accounts. The metaphysical proposal uses the tools and framework from metasemantic account to provide an ontology of the linguistic entities it is committed to. It moves away from standard approaches by using communicative actions (rather than the products of those actions e.g., sound
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Woodhouse Lane
Ls2 9jt Leeds

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 212 933,76

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 845374


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 September 2019

  • End date

    31 August 2021

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 212 933,76

  • EU contribution

    € 212 933,76

Coordinated by:


United Kingdom