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Nathan Duckett


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Ascriptives: A Semantic and Pragmatic Analysis of the Covert Propositional Attitudes


Areas of specialism

Philosophy of logics, philosophy of language, formal semantics

Areas of interest

Philosophy of mind, the philosophy of W.V. Quine

Research interests

Current research

Funded by the Arts Humanities Research Council, the goal of my research is to advocate a certain view about expressions in English such as 'Allegedly', 'Apparently', 'Word is',  and 'They Say'. According to the view I outline, these expressions are quantificational devices - what they quantify over, on the other hand, are propositions. The result should be an account of the way we use such expressions in ordinary English that is, able to account for the logical behaviour of these expressions, but also able to tell a story about some seemingly less formal puzzles involved: Why are these expressions so widely used in the media? Can we use 'Allegedly' to report things that people used to say about the world, but don't now? Can we use 'Allegedly' to cite ourselves?...

One reason why these expressions are interesting has to do with their relationship to other expressions. The obvious connection is with quotation but I claim there is also a connection with verbs of propositional attitude like 'Believes'. A further issue, I argue, is that the analysis of 'Allegedly' and similar throws up interesting sidelights on the semantics/pragmatics distinction, and particularly how that distinction is played out in the behaviour of English.


Teaching 2014-15

  • Critical Thinking (Semester 1)
  • History of Philosophy (Semester 2)

Previous teaching experience

In Philosophy: 20th Century Analytical Philosophy; Critical Thinking

In Linguistics: Introduction to Semantics The Logic of English (Introduction to Formal Semantics)

Further information

Additional information

In 2014-15 I'm the organizer for two reading groups:

  1. The Phi-Ling Reading Group. Bringing together both philosophers and linguists, this group is interested in linguistic issues within both semantics and pragmatics.&nbsp Past topics have included: propositional attitude reports, evidentiality, indexicals, expressives, and attitudes de se.
  2. The David Lewis Reading Group. This group is interested in the systematic philosophical work of David Lewis, encompassing his broad interests across language, metaphysics, philosophy of science and beyond.

For information about either of these groups, including current readings and meeting times, please email me.


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