Tue, 04 Apr|
Samia Hesni (Boston University)
Samia Hesni an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, with a core appointment in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Her research is in philosophy of language and feminist, social and political philosophy.
Time & Location
04 Apr 2023, 16:00 – 18:00 CEST
About The Event
Luck-Reducing Features of Lexical Innovation
Donald Davidson challenges Lewis’s view of conventionalized language by appealing to lexical innovation. According to the Davidsonian critique, we can and do often use completely novel and made-up expressions to communicate successfully. For example, when Busta Rhymes (2001) says “I’m about to Picasso a new picture for you,” we understand that he is promising to do something interesting and unusual. So, according to Davidson, linguistic communication can’t be fully or fundamentally conventional. This paper explores the difference between two kinds of lexical innovation: (i) lexical innovation as it pertains to lexical items that are already in use in a given linguistic community (for example, the evolution of the term “unicorn” to indicate a special person or thing; or using “Picasso” as a verb); and (ii) lexical innovation that involves the creation of new linguistic items (like mansplain and bromance). I evaluate whether there is a tension between treating the two the same way. My view leaves open the possibility that lexical innovation itself is not entirely conventionalized. The paper ends by considering the question: if lexical innovation is not conventional, then can it avoid being entirely luck-dependent? And if so, how?
Zoom meeting ID: 614 8076 0079
Zoom passcode: CEN23