CFP: Agency and intentions in language

Submission deadline: December 7, 2020

Conference date(s):
January 13, 2021 - January 15, 2021

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

English Department, Georg-August University of Gottingen
Göttingen, Germany

Topic areas


Our sense of agency and ability to distinguish between intentional and accidental actions are fundamental for social interaction. They allow us to plan and perform joint actions and assign responsibility for our own actions and those of others. Research on the nature of agency and intentions has been very fruitful over the last few decades both in philosophy and in linguistics. However, interdisciplinary discussion has rarely taken place.

We are delighted to announce the first interdisciplinary workshop on Agency and Intentions in Language. The goal of the workshop is to bring together scholars in linguistics and philosophy interested in questions related to agency and intentions.

Invited speakers

Francesco Constantini (University of Udine)

Joshua Knobe (Yale University)

Anna Szabolcsi (NYU)

On the side of philosophy, we welcome submissions addressing any aspect related to philosophy of action, philosophy of mind, the nature of agency, intentions, and acting intentionally. Both theoretical and empirical research contributing to debates on various theories of action, free will, moral responsibility, nature of reasons, and practical rationality are welcome.

On the linguistic side, we welcome submissions examining any grammatical phenomena sensitive to the degree of agency or interpretation of an action as intentional versus accidental, such as controller choice (Farkas 1988), subjunctive obviation (Ruwet1991, Schlenker 2005, Costantini 2009, a.o.), licensing of polarity items (Szabolcsi 2004), aspect choice in Slavic (Forsyth 1970, Paducheva 2013, Despic 2020, a.o.), case marking in ergative split languages and ‘out-of-control’ morphology. The focus of the workshop is mainly empirical, so submissions are welcome from all domains of the grammar (morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, etc.) and irrespective of any specific theoretical framework. Some of the topics of interest include, but are not restricted to, the following: 

·       ways in which natural languages manifest different degrees of agency or the distinction between intentional and accidental actions (morphological marking, syntactic structures, semantic denotations of verbs and adverbials, pragmatic and contextual differences)

·       connection between agency, intentions, and event structure

·       relation between agency, intentions, and causality


Anonymous abstracts, not exceeding 2 pages (including references and examples), with font no less than 11 Times New Roman, and 2 cm margins, should be uploaded on EasyChair ( Presentations will be allotted 30-minutes slots with 15 minutes for Q&A.

Important dates

-        Submission deadline: December 7th, 2020

-        Notification of acceptance: end of December 2020

-        Workshop: January 13-15, 2021 (9h-13h New York time  or 15h-19h Berlin time)

Contact and organization

Julie Goncharov

Hedde Zeijlstra

Supporting material

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