Human language can be studied from many different perspectives, and these perspectives are reflected in the variety of questions which are raised by philosophers of language. These questions include: What is a language? What are the interconnections between language and knowledge? How are language and linguistic meanings represented in the minds of speakers? What is meaning? Is meaning located in the world, or in the minds of speakers? What are the meanings of particular linguistic expressions? The study of language within philosophy intersects with other areas of philosophical interest, including epistemology and philosophical logic; and also with other disciplines, primarily linguistics and cognitive psychology.
Professor Mandy Simons approaches questions in the philosophy of language from the perspective of current linguistic theory, and is broadly interested inthe issue of how language is interpreted in context. Her work focuses on two main areas: model theoretic semantics for natural language, and natural language pragmatics. In the first of these areas, her work has centered on the study of `functional' expressions like "the" and "or": words which don't have an obvious referential content. In the realm of pragmatics, Professor Simons is concerned with the role of inference in interpretation, and with the principles which guide this inference. Her current work in this area is focussed on using general conversational principles to provide an account of the phenomenon of presupposition. Professor Simons is also interested in the role of inference and pragmatic principles in language acquisition.
Professor Arló-Costa is interested in issues related to the semantics and pragmatics of propositional attitudes, conditionals and norms. He has worked on the formalization of discourse context as well as in the development of a general theory of contextual modalities. More recent work focuses on the foundations of dynamic semantics and DRT (regarding the update functions used in these theories); and on the semantics of quantified classical modalities.