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Eliot Michaelson


Eliot Michaelson

BA -- University of Chicago, PhD -- UCLA (shortly)

Areas of Research: Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics

Office: LEA 919

Office hours: Fri 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Website: emichaelson.org

Email: eliot [dot] michaelson [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Eliot Michaelson)

My primary research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy of language and philosophy of mind.  More specifically, I am interested in whether linguistic items (terms, sentences, etc.) inherit their meaning from the ways in which we intend to use them – and, if so, how.  I’m interested both in questions of how specific linguistic items like names or pronouns might mean what they do in context because of how speakers intend to use them, and also why such intentions should matter in general for fixing meaning.  My hunch is that philosophers and linguists have typically been attending to an overly restricted set of cases, and that attending to cases involving not just informed, cooperative speakers, but also speakers suffering from confusion or engaged in attempts to deceive their listeners, will help to significantly enhance our understanding of how linguistic meaning depends on mental states.  Also, it’s way more fun to think about how we use language to lie, cheat, and steal rather than just to say true (and usually fairly obvious) things to each other. 

In addition to this main line of research, I also work on what colours are, what ethical properties might be (if there are any), what it means to possess a skill or some bit of know how, and what, if anything, language can tell us about the mind.

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