CFP: Externalism and Conceptual Change

Submission deadline: February 28, 2018

Conference date(s):
June 14, 2018 - June 15, 2018

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Conference Venue:

Arché Research Centre, University of St Andrews
St Andrews, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Classic work by Kripke, Putnam, Burge, and others has led many philosophers to maintain that the meanings of our words and the contents of our mental states are determined at least in part by factors outside of us: for example, on some views meaning is determined in part by causal or evolutionary history, or by facts about a speaker's physical or social environment.  But at least since Evans's critique of the causal theory of names, it has been clear that many externalists struggle to accommodate the possibility of meaning change.  If meaning is determined by our past, or by our environment, how can changes in what we think or how we talk change what we mean?  Topics to be discussed include:
- How can externalists make sense of conceptual or meaning change?
- How can we distinguish change of meaning from mere change of opinion? 
- Can new varieties of externalism better cope with issues of conceptual change?  
- Does the possibility of change in linguistic meaning raise the same issues as the possibility of change in the content of psychological states?  Should externalists treat language and thought differently?
- How do temporal externalist views (on which meaning of present utterances and the content of present mental states is determined by future facts) bear on conceptual change?
- How does externalism relate to revisionary theorising, for example of the sort advocated by Haslanger?

We invite submissions of papers (no more than 4000 words) or extended abstracts (1000 words) (full papers preferred).  (We will consider longer papers, but please indicate which sections you would anticipate being the focus of your presentation.)  We expect to be able to offer bursaries to defray travel expenses for authors of accepted papers, and to assist in arranging childcare.  Selected papers from the workshop will be considered for publication in a special issue of Inquiry edited by Henry Jackman. 

Papers and abstracts should be prepared for blind review and submitted by email to  Please address any questions about the workshop to Derek Ball (

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