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Jessica Keiser (Leeds): “Linguistic Conventions and Language Change”
8 February, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
This event will take place online via Zoom.
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Abstract: I argue that data about language change casts doubt on the following two theses of the Lewisian metasemantic picture: that the essential function of language is communication, and that people share a language in virtue of a common interest (namely, to achieve that particular function). I propose a novel metasemantic account which draws on Lewis’ insights by taking language to be a solution to a repeated strategy problem, while rejecting the idea that this strategy problem is always characterized by common interests. On this account, communication is a privileged function of language, but it is not unique; language also serves to establish and maintain social control and social identity.
Jessica Keiser is a Lecturer in Theoretical Philosophy and Marie Curie Individual Fellow at the School of Philosophy, Religion, and History of Science at the University of Leeds.