Syntactic Arguments in the Contextualism/Relativism Debate

May 16, 2023 - May 17, 2023
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Warsaw


This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

View the Call For Papers


  • Polish National Science Centre


University of East Anglia
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Institut Jean Nicod


University of Warsaw

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk



Syntactic arguments have played an important role in the debate between contextualism and relativism about a variety of natural language expressions - predicates of taste, aesthetic and moral terms, epistemic modals, etc. Phenomena like binding, licensing, control, etc. have been taken to support contextualism about such expressions (e.g., Glanzberg (2007), Schaffer (2011), Snyder (2013)). On the other hand, relativists like Lasersohn (2009, 2014) have argued that embeddings under certain (factive) attitude verbs and modification by certain adverbs favor their view. Finally, a classic argument - the so-called "operator argument" found in Lewis (1980) and Kaplan (1989) - has also been invoked in support of relativism (Kölbel (2009)). The operator argument has been heavily contested (e.g., King (2003), Cappelen & Hawthorne (2009), Fritz, Hawthorne & Yli-Vakkuri (2018)). This workshop purports to assess the viability and dialectical role of these arguments and to bring to light new ways of approaching them.

Among the main questions tackled by the presentations at the workshop are the following:
- How successful are the arguments against relativism based on syntactic considerations (binding, licensing, control, etc.)?
- What relativist accounts of these phenomena are there?
- How successful are the arguments in favor of relativism based on various embeddings?
- What contextualist accounts of these are there?
- Is there a successful version of  the "operator argument"?
- What other relevant syntactic phenomena can be brought to bear on the debate? Etc.


The workshop is part of the project Semantic Relativism about Perspectival Expressions: A Reassessment and Defense
(OPUS 17 project no. 2019/33/B/HS1/01269) and is organized by Dan Zeman with the support of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. Please write to danczeman[at] if you want to participate.


John Collins (University of East Anglia)
Michael Glanzberg (Rutgers University)
Isidora Stojanovic (CNRS/Institut Jean Nicod)

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




May 15, 2023, 11:45pm CET

Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

RSVPing on PhilEvents is not sufficient to register for this event.