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Jessica Keiser (Leeds): “Linguistic Conventions and Language Change”

8 February, 2:00 pm3:30 pm

This event will take place online via Zoom. 

Everyone is welcome to join using a computer with access to the internet and Zoom. To take part just follow these instructions:

Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.

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.


8 February
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Event Category:


Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method


Online via Zoom