Call for Papers: In/equality and foundational theories of meaning

Special Issue of Studia Philosophica Estonica edited by Alex Davies and Jeff Engelhardt

There is a large and growing philosophical literature on the meaning of politically significant terms: for example, on slurs and social kind terms. But the same attention has not been paid to the political significance of foundational theories of meaning i.e. theories about the fundamental grounds of meaning and/or content, such as intentionalism, teleosemantics, or social externalism. And yet, because they imply different things about the distribution (across members of a linguistic or conceptual community) of control over the meanings of terms, different implicit political commitments and implications are likely to be embedded within different foundational theories of meaning. We invite papers that address and explore these commitments and implications.

Topics that fall under this umbrella may well include, but are by no means restricted to, the following:

  • If content can be negotiated, is the negotiation rigged in favour of certain speakers?
  • Can facts about evolution ground biased or damaging conceptual contents, according to the teleosemanticist?
  • Does semantic externalism show that control over linguistic meaning is not equally distributed across speakers of the same language, but rather, controlled by an elite?
  • Does intentionalism, conventionalism, or some other theory best reflect the actual levels of control different speakers of the same language have over the meanings of their words?
  • Can facts about social worlds ground biased or damaging contents, according to the social externalist?
  • Which foundational theory of meaning provides the best explanation of the process of reclamation?
  • Does theorizing about the foundations of meaning inevitably involve commitment to political ideals about the correct way to distribute control over the meanings of linguistic terms? Or can the theorist remain neutral between such ideals?

Deadline and Submission
The deadline for submissions is August 1st 2017. Submissions should be prepared for anonymous review, in word format and no more than 9000 words in length (including references and footnotes). To submit a paper, register at the Studia Philosophica Estonica website and follow the instructions.

Be sure to add a comment to the Comments for the Editor section that your submission is for this special issue.

Submissions will be anonymously reviewed by a panel of referees selected by, and including, the guest editors. A third-party, who is otherwise not involved in the review process, will distribute submissions to the referees. We expect to notify those whose papers have been accepted for the special issue or who are invited to revise and resubmit their submissions by October 1st 2017.

Other Information
Studia Philosophica Estonica is an open-access Philosophy journal, based at the Department of Philosophy, University of Tartu, Estonia.

Special Issue Guest Editors:
Alex Davies (, Department of Philosophy, University of Tartu.
Jeff Engelhardt (, Department of Philosophy, Dickinson College.