TOMASZ ZYGLEWICZ

research

WORK IN PROGRESS

  • A paper on desire reports (revise and resubmit)

  • A paper on social epistemology. (with Shannon Brick) (Under review)

  • A paper on color predicates. (with Adrian Ziółkowski) (Under review)

  • Associative exportation. (forthcoming)

  • According to latitudinarianism, S’s belief that x is F is about x solely in virtue of S’s believing a proposition that ascribes F-ness to x. Saul Kripke (2011d) has recently objected to this view by arguing that it entails that S believes of arbitrary objects that they are F. In this paper I revisit Ernest Sosa’s (1995a,b) notion of associative aboutness to put forward a novel account of mental reference, called “associative exportation”, that evades the troublesome consequence pointed out by Kripke, while preserving the spirit of latitudinarianism. In particular, the proposed view: (1) does not invoke any form of acquaintance with the object of belief; (2) validates a weak reducibility thesis of de re belief to de dicto; (3) is compatible with the observation that our unreflective aboutness judgments are latitudinarian; (4) offers new insights about the notorious tallest-spy objection.
    keywords: belief reports, de re/de dicto, mental reference, latitudinarianism, exportation
  • Slur reclamation and homonymy.

  • Reclamation is a socio-linguistic process where a derogative term T – most often a slur – comes to lose its negative valence as a result of concerted efforts of the members of the group targeted by T and their allies (Brontsema 2004; Herbert 2015). In this paper we are interested in the cases of reclamation in which the goal is not only to elicit camaraderie among the in-group members targeted by T (Anderson 2018), but also to get the general public to stop using T in a derogatory way (Jeshion 2020, 106–7; Zeman 2021, 10–11). Paradigmatic examples in English include the terms “queer” and “suffragette.”

    Proponents of the semantic accounts of slurs claim that the phenomenon can be analyzed in terms of ambiguity (Potts 2007, 10; Saka 2007, 109:42; Richard 2008, 16; Hom 2008, 428; Whiting 2013, 370; Jeshion 2013, 250). On this picture, three coarse-grained stages of a successful reclamation can be distinguished:

    1. Pre-reclamation. A term T has a semantic meaning M1, which (i) refers to group G; and (ii) has a negative valence.
    2. Reclamation. A new meaning for T, M2, is introduced, such that it (i) refers to group G; and (ii) has a neutral or positive valence. M1 and M2 coexist.
    3. Post-reclamation. M2 becomes the dominant meaning of T. This leads to effective eradication of the negatively-valenced meaning M1.

    It has been claimed to be a problem of this account that its proponents rarely specify the type of ambiguity that is at play (Cepollaro 2018, 370; cf. Ritchie 2017, 157, fn. 5). When they do, they claim that M1 and M2 are polysemes, i.e. semantically related senses of T (Jeshion 2020; Zeman 2021).

    By contrast, we propose to take M1 and M2 to be semantically unrelated homonyms. Doing so enables one to explain political reclamation in terms of the principle of homonymic conflict (Gilliéron and Roques 1912; Bloomfield 1933, 396–99; Menner 1936; Williams 1944; Horn 2018, 198–99). The idea is that languages do not tolerate situations where two identical words pertaining to the same sphere of life differ in meanings in a way that can lead to systematic confusion. For instance, when the Old English word /bræ͜ɑːd/ (‘bread’) became Middle English /brɛːd/, the word started being confused with /brɛːd(e/ (‘roast meat’), which “almost certainly led to the loss of the latter” (Williams 1944, 81–82). Even though the principle is no longer as extensively studied as it used to be, it has received additional empirical support from recent neurolinguistic studies (MacGregor, Bouwsema, and Klepousniotou 2015; Maciejewski and Klepousniotou 2020).

    Our suggestion is that political reclamation works (when it works) because situation in which there are two homophonic words M1 and M2, which have identical extensions, but one of which is negatively-valenced, while the other is positively-valenced (stage 2/reclamation), is an unstable one, and thus is bound to lead to the loss of one of the words. Our view not only provides an empirically-grounded account of why reclamation can be such an efficient tool of linguistic warfare, but also – if correct – it sheds new light on certain theoretical issues, including: the distinction between reclamation and amelioration, the distinction between polysemy and homonymy, and Paul Grice’s “Modified Occam’s Razor” (Grice 1989, 47).
    keywords: slurs, ambiguity, homonymy, polysemy, conflict of homonyms

PUBLICATIONS

  • Sophisticated textualism and sanctions. Studia Iuridica 2019 82: 343-357.

  • Against ‘the input view’ of legal gaps. Archiwum Filozofii Prawa i Filozofii Społecznej 2019 2(20): 75-88.

  • Objective and epistemic gradability: is the New Angle on the Knobe Effect empirically grounded? (with Bartosz Maćkiewicz), Philosophical Psychology 2019 32(2): 234-256.

  • Can a consequentialist be a good friend? Etyka 2016 52: 56-79.