CFP: Open Texture and Semantics

Submission deadline: August 1, 2023

Topic areas


Special Issue of Linguistics and Philosophy

Guest Editors: Michael Glanzberg, Chris Kennedy, Daniel Lassiter, Dejan Makovec, Stewart Shapiro

Please announce intentions to submit to the special issue via email with the subject line “Open Texture and Semantics” to Dejan Makovec: [email protected]


Please use the general “submit manuscript” link. During the submission process you will be asked if the paper is submitted for a special issue. Once you say yes, you can select the relevant special issue. Submissions to the special issue will go through the standard review procedure of Linguistics and Philosophy. For inquiries about the special issue please contact Dejan Makovec: [email protected]

Content Description:

A predicate is said to exhibit “open texture” if neither its history of application, nor any attempt at defining it, can determine its applicability to all new cases we may encounter in the future. According to the notion’s originator, Friedrich Waismann, most empirical concepts display open texture: their meanings may be clearly delimited in familiar contexts, but do not determine their application in novel and surprising cases.

The notion of open texture is found in debates on the semantics of vague predicates (Williamson 1994, Shapiro 2006), but more broadly in the literature on the philosophy of science, language and mathematics, as well as in epistemology, metaphysics, and meta-philosophy (Will 1974, Wilson 2006, Yablo 2008, Chalmers 2012, Machery 2017, Shapiro & Roberts 2021). In addition, it has a bearing on deep issues in lexical semantics and pragmatics, and on questions about language change.

Possibly due to its wide applicability, this notion itself displays some open texture. Among the questions we envisage for this special issue are the extent to which open texture is a phenomenon of natural languages, how the notion is best described, and to what extent semantics (and logic) can and should accommodate it. This special issue also welcomes submissions that draw on Waismann’s related papers on analyticity, meaning and conceptual change in science, such as “Verifiability” (1945), “Are There Alternative Logics” (1945-1946) “Language Strata” (1946/1953), “The Decline and Fall of Causality” (1959) or his series “Analytic-Synthetic” (1949-1953).

Chalmers, David. 2012. Constructing the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Machery, Edouard. 2017. Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Makovec, Dejan & Shapiro, Stewart. (eds.) 2019. Friedrich Waismann: The Open Texture of Analytic Philosophy, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

McGuinness, Brian. 2011. Friedrich Waismann—Causality and Logical Positivism. Dordrecht: Springer.

Shapiro, Stewart. 2006. Vagueness in Context. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shapiro, Stewart & Craige Roberts. 2021. “Open texture and mathematics”. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 62.1:173-191. DOI: 10.1215/00294527-2021-0007

Waismann, Friedrich. 1977. Philosophical Papers, ed. Brian McGuinness. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

Waismann, Friedrich.1968. How I See Philosophy, ed. Rom Harré. London: Macmillan.

Will, Frederick L. 1974. Induction and Justification: An Investigation of Cartesian Procedure In the Philosophy of Knowledge. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Williamson, Timothy. 1994. Vagueness. London: Routledge

Wilson, Mark. 2006. Wandering Significance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Yablo, Stephen. 2008. Thoughts: Papers on Mind, Meaning, and Modality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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#open texture, #semantics, #diachronic semantics, #lexical semantics, #pragmatics