meaning sciences club

We are a discussion group at Berkeley focused on semantics and related topics in syntax, pragmatics, logic, cognitive science, and the philosophy of language. The group is organized by Seth Yalcin (philosophy), with help from Peter Jenks (linguistics), John MacFarlane (philosophy), Line Mikkelsen (linguistics), Sophie Dandelet (philosophy) and Arc Kocurek (logic).

The group mailing list is Berkeley affiliates can subscribe through CalMail. Others can join the list by going here. For further information contact Seth Yalcin

upcoming talks

Thursday, November 3, 2016:
David Plunkett (Dartmouth)
Clinic: Metalinguistic Negotiation
234 Moses Hall, 4:30pm-6pm

Abstract: In a series of recent papers, we have suggested that debates in a large number of areas—including topics of significant interest to philosophers, and even debates within philosophy—can best be characterized as what we call metalinguistic negotiations. Speakers involved in a metalinguistic negotiation do not assert conflicting contents. Rather, they negotiate how to use their words, which concepts to employ, how to set contextual parameters, how to precisify vague terms, and similar representational matters. This type of analysis is tailor-made for domains like aesthetic and taste discourse, and its plausibility seriously undermines central arguments for competing, assessment-relative theories in those areas. But the picture can extend well beyond domains that are characterized by “faultless disagreement”. Our choices about which concepts to use, and about which concepts to pair with which words, can be loaded with significance, in ways that correspond closely to the object-level matters that intuitively are at issue in the domains we discuss. The normative significance of our representational choices, and the correspondence between those choices and our non-representational activities and goals, ensures that metalinguistic negotiation can serve as a means for debating issues of great practical and even theoretical significance. In this talk, we introduce our framework for thinking about this mode of communication, and we gesture towards some arguments that it may be very much more common than one might think. 



previous talks

Weekend March 12-13, 2016: 
Meaning Sciences Workshop 2

Friday, March 11, 2016: 
William Starr (Cornell)
Force and Conversational States
234 Moses Hall, 5pm

December 22, 2015: 
Ezra Keshet (Michigan)
Imperatives Under and Over Conjunction 
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm-4pm

November 19, 2015: 
Jessica Rett (UCLA)
Attitude Markers and Sincerity Conditions in an Update Semantics 
3401 Dwinelle Hall, 4pm-5:30PM

April 24, 2015: 
Zoltan Gendler Szabo (Yale)
Semantic Explanations
234 Moses Hall, 4pm-5:30PM

Dec 2, 2014: 
Richard Lawrence (Berkeley)
Three Analyses of Specificational Sentences
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Oct 14, 2014:
Yael Sharvit (UCLA) 
Sequence of Tense: Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Sept 30, 2104:
Melissa Fusco (Berkeley)
Deontic Disjunction
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Apr 28, 2014:
Daniel Rothschild (UCL) 
Epistemic Contradictions
1229 Dwinelle Hall, 12:30-2pm

Mar 8-9, 2014:
Conference: Metasemantics (joint with CSMN) 
Howison Library, Moses Hall

Feb 24, 2014: 
Ryan Bochnak (Berkeley) 
Degree achievements in a degree-less language
3401 Dwinelle Hall, 12:30-2pm

Dec 3, 2013:
Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford)
The Ingredients of Anankasticity
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

Nov 5, 2013: 
Donka Farkas (Santa Cruz)
Assertions, Polar Questions, and the Land In Between
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

Oct 1, 2013:
Chris Potts (Stanford) 
Conversational implicature: interacting with grammar
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

April 8, 2013: 
Seth Yalcin (Berkeley)
Epistemic Modality De Re
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

March 18, 2013: 
Ethan Nowak (Berkeley)
Non-Deictic Complex Demonstratives
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Feb 25, 2013: 
Peter Jenks (Berkeley) 
Clinic: Quantifier Raising
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Feb 11, 2013: 
Herman Cappelen (St. Andrews)
The Philosophical (in)Significance of Indexicality and the First Person
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Nov 13, 2012:
Thomas Icard (Stanford) 
Wesley Holliday (Berkeley)
Logic, Probability, and Epistemic Modality
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Oct 16, 2012: 
Line Mikkelsen (Berkeley)
Some Observations about Sameness, Identity and Comparison
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Sept 11, 2012:
Michael Rieppel (Berkeley)
Shifty Definites
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm