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  • 1.
    Michealson, Eliot
    et al.
    King's College London.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    On salience-based theories of demonstratives2022In: Salience: a philosophical inquiry / [ed] Sophie Archer, Routledge, 2022, p. 70-88Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, we examine a number of ways in which the notion of salience has been or might be used to fix the reference of demonstrative expressions. Although we find the idea generally attractive, we conclude that the prospects for a theory of demonstrative reference based on salience are not, in fact, very good. We conclude by considering how certain aspects of these salience-based views might be productively integrated into alternative theories of demonstrative reference—and, indeed, theories of meaning more broadly.

  • 2.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Complex demonstratives, hidden arguments, and presupposition2021In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 198, no 4, p. 2865-2900Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Standard semantic theories predict that non-deictic readings for complex demonstratives should be much more widely available than they in fact are. If such readings are the result of a lexical ambiguity, as Kaplan (in: Almog, Perry, Wettstein (eds) Themes from Kaplan, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977) and others suggest, we should expect them to be available wherever a definite description can be used. The same prediction follows from ‘hidden argument’ theories like the ones described by King (Complex Demonstratives: a Quantificational Account, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2001) and Elbourne (Situations and Individuals, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2005). Wolter (That’s That; the Semantics and Pragmatics of Demonstrative Noun Phrases. Ph.D. thesis, University of California at Santa Cruz, 2006), however, has shown that complex demonstratives admit non-deictic interpretations only when a precise set of structural constrains are met. In this paper, I argue that Wolter’s results, properly understood, upend the philosophical status quo. They fatally undermine the ambiguity theory and demand a fundamental rethinking of the hidden argument approach.

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  • 3.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, USA.
    Demonstratives without rigidity or ambiguity2014In: Linguistics and Philology, ISSN 1011-3261, Vol. 37, no 5, p. 409-436Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Most philosophers recognize that applying the standard semantics for complex demonstratives to non-deictic instances results in truth conditions that are anomalous, at best. This fact has generated little concern, however, since most philosophers treat non-deictic demonstratives as marginal cases, and believe that they should be analyzed using a distinct semantic mechanism. In this paper, I argue that non-deictic demonstratives cannot be written off; they are widespread in English and foreign languages, and must be treated using the same semantic machinery that is applied to deictic instances.

  • 4.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Language extinction2021In: The Routledge handbook of social and political philosophy of language / [ed] Justin Khoo, Rachel Katharine Sterken, New York: Routledge, 2021, p. 281-297Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter discusses the moral and prudential value of preserving endangered languages. The chapter presents a range of reasons from both popular and philosophical sources as why we should care about the fact that minority languages go extinct—from the potential loss of scientific knowledge that might happen only to be captured in an endangered language to the role speaking a language plays in the self-conception of its speakers—before sketching his own view, according to which certain speech acts are only performable in a given language, and so language extinction can lead to silencing.

  • 5.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Language loss and Illocutionary Silencing2020In: Mind (Print), ISSN 0026-4423, E-ISSN 1460-2113, Vol. 129, no 515, p. 831-866Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The twenty-first century will witness an unprecedented decline in the diversity of the world’s languages. While most philosophers will likely agree that this decline is lamentable, the question of what exactly is lost with a language has not been systematically explored in the philosophical literature. In this paper, I address this lacuna by arguing that language loss constitutes a problematic form of illocutionary silencing. When a language disappears, past and present speakers lose the ability to realize a range of speech acts that can only be realized in that language. With that ability, speakers lose something in which they have a fundamental interest: their standing as fully empowered members of a linguistic community.

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  • 6.
    Nowak, Ethan
    University College London.
    Multiculturalism, autonomy, and language preservation2019In: Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy, E-ISSN 2330-4014, Vol. 6, no 11, p. 303-333Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, I show how a novel treatment of speech acts can be combined with a well-known liberal argument for multiculturalism in a way that will justify claims about the preservation, protection, or accommodation of minority languages. The key to the paper is the claim that every language makes a distinctive range of speech acts possible, acts that cannot be realized by means of any other language. As a result, when a language disappears, so does a class of speech acts. If we accept that our social identities are in large part constituted by the decisions we make about how to speak, then language loss will amount to a substantial infringement on our autonomy in a particularly important domain.

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  • 7.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Department of Philosophy, King's College London, London, UK.
    No context, no content, no problem2020In: Mind and language, ISSN 0268-1064, E-ISSN 1468-0017Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Recently, philosophers have offered compelling reasons to think that demonstratives are best represented as variables, sensitive not to the context of utterance, but to a variable assignment. Variablists typically explain familiar intuitions about demonstratives—intuitions that suggest that what is said by way of a demonstrative sentence varies systematically over contexts—by claiming that contexts initialize a particular assignment of values to variables. I argue that we do not need to link context and the assignment parameter in this way, and that we would do better not to.

  • 8.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Poetic injustice2023In: Episteme: A journal of individual and social epistemology, ISSN 1742-3600, E-ISSN 1750-0117Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    When J.R. Cash (Johnny Cash) sings that he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, audiences impressed by the singer's skillful creation and depiction of a nihilistic lyrical subject clap and cheer. When Terrell Doyley (Skengdo) and Joshua Malinga (A.M.) sang broadly similar lyrics at a concert in 2018, London's Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service took them to be describing violent acts they had participated in and violent intentions they harbored, and the lyrics were used as the basis for legal proceedings against the singers that resulted in convictions. In this paper, I will argue that Doyley and Malinga's case illustrates a distinctive and important form that epistemic injustice can take. By failing to see their lyrics as speech that involves the exercise of their capacity for imagination, the police and prosecutors treat them as an impoverished sort of epistemic agent. I will call the wrong involved in cases like this one poetic injustice.

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  • 9.
    Nowak, Ethan
    King’s College London, London, UK.
    Really complex demonstratives: а dilemma2020In: Erkenntnis, ISSN 0165-0106, E-ISSN 1572-8420Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    I have two aims for the present paper, one narrow and one broad. The narrow aim is to show that a class of data originally described by Lynsey Wolter (That’s that; the semantics and pragmatics of demonstrative noun phrases, PhD thesis, University of California at Santa Cruz, 2006) empirically undermine the leading treatments of complex demonstratives that have been described in the literature. The broader aim of the paper is to show that Wolter demonstratives, as I will call the constructions I focus on, are a threat not just to existing treatments, but to any possible theory that retains the uncontroversial assumptions that relative clauses always form a constituent with the nouns they modify, and that semantic composition proceeds sequentially and locally, with the inputs to interpretation having the structure syntax tells us they do.

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  • 10.
    Nowak, Ethan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Sociolinguistic variation, speech acts, and discursive injustice2023In: The Philosophical Quarterly, ISSN 0031-8094, E-ISSN 1467-9213, Vol. 73, no 4, p. 1024-1045Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Despite its status at the heart of a closely related field, philosophers have so far mostly overlooked a phenomenon sociolinguists call 'social meaning'. My aim in this paper will be to show that by properly acknowledging the significance of social meanings, we can identify an important new set of forms that discursive injustice takes. I begin by surveying some data from variationist sociolinguistics that reveal how subtle differences in the way a particular content is expressed allow us to perform importantly different illocutionary actions, actions we use to do things like constructing a public persona and building a rapport with an audience. The social importance of these activities and the pervasiveness of our engagement in them means that the ethical stakes involved are high - substantial injustices may result if speakers from different social groups are differently empowered with regard to the illocutionary possibilities made available to them by variation.

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  • 11.
    Nowak, Ethan
    et al.
    Department of Philosophy, University College London, London, UK.
    Michaelson, Eliot
    King's College London.
    Discourse and Method: Why Appeals to Context Won't Go Away2020In: Linguistics and Philosophy, ISSN 0165-0157, E-ISSN 1573-0549, Vol. 43, no 2, p. 119-138Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Stojnic ́ et al. (Philos Perspect 27(1):502–525, 2013; Linguist Philos 40(5):519–547, 2017) argue that the reference of demonstratives is fixed without any contribution from the extra-linguistic context. On their ‘prominence/coherence’ theory, the reference of a demonstrative expression depends only on its context-independent linguistic meaning. Here, we argue that Stojnic ́ et al.’s striking claims can be maintained in only the thinnest technical sense. Instead of eliminating appeals to the extra-linguistic context, we show how the prominence/coherence theory merely suppresses them. Then we ask why one might be tempted to try and offer such a view. Since we are rather sympathetic to the motivations we find, we close by sketching a more plausible alternative.

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  • 12.
    Nowak, Ethan
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Michaelson, Eliot
    Department of Philosophy, King’s College London, London, UK.
    Meta-metasemantics, or the quest for the one true metasemantics2021In: The Philosophical Quarterly, ISSN 0031-8094, E-ISSN 1467-9213, Vol. 72, no 1, p. 135-154Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    What determines the meaning of a context-sensitive expression in a context? It is standardly assumed that, for a given expression type, there will be a unitary answer to this question; most of the literature on the subject involves arguments designed to show that one particular metasemantic proposal is superior to a specific set of alternatives. The task of the present essay will be to explore whether this is a warranted assumption, or whether the quest for the one true metasemantics might be a Quixotic one. We argue that there are good reasons—much better than are commonly appreciated—for thinking the latter, but that there nevertheless remains significant scope for metasemantic theorizing. We conclude by outlining our preferred option, metasemantic pluralism.

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  • 13.
    Nowak, Ethan
    et al.
    King’s College London.
    Michaelson, Eliot
    Who's your ideal listener?2020In: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, ISSN 0004-8402, E-ISSN 1471-6828Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It is increasingly common for philosophers to rely on the notion of an idealised listener when explaining how the semantic values of context-sensitive expressions are determined. Some have identified the semantic values of such expressions, as used on particular occasions, with whatever an appropriately idealised listener would take them to be. Others have argued that, for something to count as the semantic value, an appropriately idealised listener should be able to recover it. Our aim here is to explore the range of ways that such idealisation might be worked out, and then to argue that none of these results in a very plausible theory. We conclude by reflecting on what this negative result reveals about the nature of meaning and responsibility.

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1 - 13 of 13
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  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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