Research Group in Analytic Philosophy

Semantic Content and Conversational Dynamics

Duration: 2013 - 2016

Code: FFI2012-37658

Principal Investigator

Max Kölbel (max.kolbel@ub.edu)

Other researchers

Barcelona Members:

Johan Gebo (Logos/FPI predoc at Universitat de Barcelona)

Dr Josep Maciá (Logos/Profesor titular at Universitat de Barcelona)

Eduardo Martínez Zoroa (Logos/FI predoc at Universitat de Barcelona)

Dr Daniel Morgan (Logos/ Beatriu de Pinos fellow at Universitat de Barcelona)

Dr Mihaela Popa (Logos/Beatriu de Pinos fellow at Universitat de Barcelona)

Giulia Pravato (Logos/Universitat de Barcelona & University of Venice)

David Rey (Logos/FPI at Universitat de Barcelona)

External Members:

Andrei Moldovan (Universidad de Salamanca, formerly Logos/Universitat de Barcelona)

Dr Bryan Pickel (Edinburgh University, formerly Logos/Universitat de Barcelona)

Dr Moritz Schulz (Tübingen University, formerly Logos/Universitat de Barcelona)

Dr Isidora Stojanovic (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris)

Dr Stephan Torre (Aberdeen University, formerly Logos/Universitat de Barcelona)

Dr Dan Zeman (University of the Basque Country, formerly Logos/Universitat de Barcelona)


The project website is here .


A semantic theory for a natural language provides a systematic description of (aspects of) the meanings of the repeatable expressions of the language. This description may serve a number of explanatory aims. For example, explaining how the meanings of complex expressions are determined by the meanings of their parts (compositionality) or explicating the notions of logical consequence, logical truth or synonymy. Another explanatory aim, which is relevant to this project, is to achieve an understanding of linguistic communication, specifically how the use of language can serve the purpose of transmitting information from one thinker to another.

Recent debates about semantic content have called into question traditional accounts and have renewed interest in unorthodox approaches, in particular approaches that operate with semantic contents that do not have absolute truth-values (de se contents, centered propositions, relativized propositions etc). These novel approaches to semantic content challenge the simple models of communication and information transfer that have traditionally been assumed. They also raise independently interesting questions about linguistic communication.

It is the aim of this project to clarify the role of semantic contents, as ascribed by a semantic theory, in an account of linguistic communication. In particular, the objectives of the project are (a) to achieve an up to date understanding of theories of the dynamics of conversation (e.g. theories of speech acts and conversational score/common ground), (b) achieve an up to date understanding of how belief states (incl. self-locating beliefs) are updated (both routine updating and updating under influx of new information), (c) to evaluate recent proposals and arguments concerning asserting, or communicating with, (allegedly) problematic centered contents, and finally (d) to develop accounts of the dynamics of conversation and of communication that can do justice to the (allegedly) problematic novel semantic contents.


Workshops took place in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The next workshop, Operators vs Quantifiers wll take place 30 Jun - 2 Jul 2016 (see website for details)



  • Max Kölbel. 2016

    "About Concerns "

    forthcoming in Ilse Depraetere and Raphael Salkie (eds.), Drawing a Line: Perspecti9ves on the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface, Amsterdam: Springer.

  • Max Kölbel. 2016

    "Aesthetic Judge-Dependence and Expertise "

    Forthcoming in Inquiry.

  • Mihaela Popa, Mihaela Popa-Wyatt. 2016

    Introduction to Special Issue on GO FIGURE: Understanding of Figurative Talk. 

    To appear in Philosophical Studies.

  • Mihaela Popa, Mihaela Popa-Wyatt. 2016

    Compound Figures: Priority and Speech-Act Structure. Special Issue on GO FIGURE: Understanding Figurative Talk. 

    To appear in Philosophical Studies.

  • Max Kölbel. 2015

    "Relativism 1: Representational Content"

    Philosophy Compass 10/1, pp. 38–51.

  • Max Kölbel. 2015

    "Relativism 2: Semantic Content"

    Philosophy Compass 10/1, pp. 52–67.

  • Max Kölbel. 2015

    "Moral Relativism "

    In Tim Crane (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2015, London: Routledge.

  • Max Kölbel. 2015

    "Propositionen "

    In Nikola Kompa (ed), Handbuch Sprachphilosophie, Stuttgart/Weimar: Verlag J.B. Metzler.

  • Max Kölbel. 2015

    Review of John MacFarlane, Assessment Sensitivity [CORRECTED VERSION]

    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

  • Mihaela Popa, Stephen J. Barker and Mihaela Popa-Wyatt. 2015

    Irony and the dogma about the force/sense distinction

    Analysis, 75 (1):9-16 

  • Max Kölbel. 2014

    "Agreement and Communication"

    Erkenntnis 79, pp. 101–120.

  • Max Kölbel. 2013

    "Should we be Pluralists about Truth?"

    in Nicolaj Jang Pedersen and Cory Wright (eds), Truth Pluralism: Current Debates, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013.

  • Max Kölbel. 2013

    "The Conversational Role of Centered Contents "

    Inquiry 56, pp. 97–121.

  • Max Kölbel. 2013

    Wörtliche illokutionäre Kraft. Eine Verteidigung der konventionalen Behauptung

    in Eva-Maria Konrad et al. (eds), Fiktion, Wahrheit, Interpretation, Münster: Mentis Verlag.

  • Bryan Pickel. 2013

    Variables and Attitudes

    forthcoming at Nous

  • Bryan Pickel. 2013

    Russell on Incomplete Symbols

    forthcoming at Philosophy Compass

  • Bryan Pickel, Derek Ball. 2012

    One Dogma of Millianism

    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. DOI: 10.1111/phpr.12009