Calendar of Events

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Upcoming Events

Friday, February 25th at 3PM
Colloquium with Alessandra Tanesini


Friday, March 4th at 3PM

"Biolinguistics and Systems Biology:
A Complex Systems Analysis of Language"

Ryan Nefdt
University of Cape Town

In their recent book, Ladyman and Wiesner (2020) delineate a recent interdisciplinary field called ‘complexity science’. In that work, they provide examples of generally accepted complex systems and common features which these systems possess to varying degrees. In this talk, I plan to extend their list to include the formal study of natural language, i.e. linguistics. In fact, I will argue that language exhibits many of the hallmarks of a complex system, specifically a complex biological system. Thus, my aim is to advocate, contra the ‘Galilean strategy’ traditionally favoured by Chomskyans and the Minimalist program (Chomsky 1995) which motivates simple underlying mechanisms (i.e. Merge) as constitutive, that linguistics should embrace a ‘Maximalist Program’ in which multiple subfields contribute component explanations to an emerging whole.

Dr. Ryan Nefdt is a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town and a fellow at MIT's Linguistics and Philosophy Department. He mostly works on the philosophy of science, with a special focus on linguistics but also has interests in AI and African Philosophy. He is currently writing a book with OUP on the philosophy of linguistics and structural realism.


Past Events

Friday, February 4th
at 3PM

Karen Lewis

Discourse Referents in a Stalnakerian Context
(Abstract Available Here)

Dr. Lewis is Assistant Professor in the Barnard-Columbia philosophy department whose research is mainly in the philosophy of language and philosophical linguistics. A common theme in her work is the interaction between context and content. She works on topics in dynamic vs. static semantics, the nature of semantic vs. pragmatic explanations, pronominal anaphora, counterfactual conditionals, and context-sensitivity.