SPE 2012

The Fifth Semantics and Philosophy in Europe colloquium will take place at the University of Turin, June 25-27, 2012.

The purpose of the Semantics and Philosophy in Europe colloquia is to enhance the dialogue between linguists and philosophers by providing a forum for presenting research in the interface between linguistic semantics and the various areas of philosophy (philosophy of language, logic, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology).

SPE takes place annually in different European cities. The previous meetings took place in Paris (SPE1, 2008), London (SPE2, 2009), Paris (SPE3,2010), and Bochum (SPE4, 2011).

This year’s colloquium will be devoted entirely to two topics: Plural Reference, and Nominalization and Ontological Commitment.

The final programme (pdf) for the colloquium is now available.

Topic (A): Plural Reference

Plural reference has become a lively philosophical topic since some philosophers and logicians have claimed that plural terms of natural language can refer to several entities at once as their semantic values. This raises a number of open questions for philosophers and semanticists as well:

  • Should linguists adopt this philosophical conception of plural reference?
  • Can semantics be affected by philosophical arguments on the need to avoid the so-called paradoxes of absolute generality?
  • What are the spin-offs of developing a semantics for a plural language in a plural metalanguage?
  • Are there other forms of non-singular reference, e.g., list-like expressions?

Invited speakers:


Click here for a list of suggested readings for the tutorial.

Topic (B): Nominalization and Ontological Commitment

Natural language allows a variety of ways of building referential expressions out of non-referential ones. This raises such key questions at the interface between ontology and semantics as:

  • Which ways of setting up a single object as the semantic value of a referential term are permissible?
  • What is the ontological status of these objects?
  • When is ontological commitment to such things as fictional or nonexistent objects, delivered by referential terms, to be taken at face value?
  • How should the threat of paradox be addressed that goes along with some of the ways of introducing such objects?
  • Is an ontologically deflationist strategy the best way to deal with such issues?
  • Does the use of singular terms and quantification provide the right criteria for ontological commitment in the first place?

Invited speakers:

Special guest: Stephen Schiffer (NYU).

Click here for the Call for Papers.

SPE5 is organized by Øystein Linnebo (Birkbeck College), Friederike Moltmann (IHPST, Paris), Benjamin Schnieder (University of Hamburg), and Alberto Voltolini (University of Turin), and financially supported by the ERC Starting Grant Plurals, Predicates, and Paradox (Ø. Linnebo) and the DFG-ANR Project Nominalizations: Philosophical and Linguistic Perspectives (F. Moltmann, B. Schnieder).

If you have any questions, please send an email to spe.2012@gmx.net.

(Header picture by M. Klüber under GFDL license.)