ON KAPLAN ON WORDS: mini-workshop (in person and online) about David Kaplan’s conception of words

September 21, 2023

Venue: Lecture Hall 3D, NIG Building, University of Vienna

Zoom Link: write to paolo.bonardi@univie.ac.at


4:00pm(CET) - 5:30pm   Youichi Matsusaka, Full Professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, PhD degree from UCLA under Kaplan (talk in person)

Talk title: “Further Words on Words: A Naturalistic Approach to the Ontology of Linguistic Entities”

Talk abstract:  In his much-discussed paper “Words”, David Kaplan initiated a naturalistic study of the ontology of words. Although his critique of the shape-theoretic conception of words appears to be widely accepted, one of his main claims – differences in sound or shape between tokens of the same word can be “just about as great as you would like” – has been almost universally rejected by his critics. A possible exception to this consensus has emerged in the recent work of Una Stojnić. By taking Kaplan’s suggestion that words are evolving, worldly entities seriously, I will attempt to defend Kaplan’s claim and compare my views with those of Stojnić. In doing so, I will emphasize the role of token resemblance in the evolution of words, a factor missing in the existing literature.

5:30pm - 7:00pm   Una Stojnić, Assistant Professor at Princeton University (Zoom talk)

Talk title: "Tolerance and Articulation"

Talk abstract:
What makes an utterance of a word an utterance of that particular word? Most theorists maintain that the answer must appeal to the so-called principle of Tolerance: roughly, that its articulation must sufficiently resemble the standard articulations of the word. Building on Stojnić (2022), I argue that Tolerance is misguided as a condition on word-identity. Moreover, the reliance on Tolerance masks an important, but often overlooked, distinction between words and their articulations. In this talk I demonstrate the importance of this distinction for a number of debates in philosophy of language.

7:30pm   Dinner at the restaurant "Blauensteiner" (please, let paolo.bonardi@univie.ac.at know by this Wednesday if you want to join)

ORGANIZER: Paolo Bonardi, FWF Lise Meitner fellow, paolo.bonardi@univie.ac.at