I teach at Rutgers University, as a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Center for Cognitive Science. My primary research
interests lie at the intersection of philosophy, linguistics, and psychology.
For a while now, I've been thinking about how grammatical structure
is related to linguistic meaning, and how words are related to concepts. Events and Semantic Architecture (OUP, 2005) was an initial progress report. In various
papers, often collaborative, I have defended a
nativist approach to the study of human languages and an internalist
conception of what these languages are. In a recently published book--Conjoining Meanings: Semantics without Truth Values (OUP, 2018)--I argue that meanings are instructions for how to build concepts of a special kind. A sequel (The Vocabulary of Meanings) is in the works. A recurring theme is that with regard to how words are used and understood, representational format matters a lot, and so theorists should distinguish meanings from any format-neutral contents that get represented or communicated.
I received my B.A. from Rutgers College in 1986, did my graduate work at MIT, and joined the department of philosophy
at McGill University in 1990. Causing Actions (OUP, 2000) reflected my initial interests in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. From 1998 to 2017, I taught in the departments of linguistics and philosophy
at the University of Maryland, where I am Professor Emeritus. In returning to my alma mater, I moved from one of the fourteen Big Ten schools to another; yet I never attended a Big Ten school, and I had never before been hired by one. Seems appropriate for a philosopher who thinks about language.
When time permits, I spend a lot of time here, sometimes doing other things.
Some Recent or Upcoming Talks
(If you find the slides useful, feel free to use them, and likewise for these older talks)
Rutgers-Bochum Workshop (April 2018, slides .pptx)
Topoi Conference (June, 2018)
Confronting Existential Angst
NYU Semantics Group (March 2018, handout.pdf)
Most Meanings and Minds
Rutgers Cogsci Proseminar (October 2017, slides .pptx)
Simon Frasier University produced a video of a similar 2014 talk
("Mostly Framing") for Linguistics and Cognitive Science.
Meaning Internalism and Natural History
Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science,
Univ. of Michigan (April 1, 2017 .pptx, .pdf)
Meanings, Concepts, and Natural Kinds: What Were People Thinking?
Rutgers Anniversary (Nov. 10, 1766+250, .pptx .pdf)
Locating Human Meanings: Less Typology, More Constraint
Rutgers Workshop (October 2015, .pptx .pdf)
Univ. of Arizona (October 2015, .pptx .pdf)
Also in Panopto form, thanks to the Arizona linguistics department.
Form and Composition
Higginbotham Lecture at USC (2014).
For this talk, in honor of Jim, a handout.