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Eliot Michaelson
King's College London
  1. What’s New About Fake News?Jessica Pepp, Eliot Michaelson & Rachel Sterken - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (2):67-94.
    The term "fake news" ascended rapidly to prominence in 2016 and has become a fixture in academic and public discussions, as well as in political mud-slinging. In the flurry of discussion, the term has been applied so broadly as to threaten to render it meaningless. In an effort to rescue our ability to discuss—and combat—the underlying phenomenon that triggered the present use of the term, some philosophers have tried to characterize it more precisely. A common theme in this nascent philosophical (...)
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  2. Speaker's reference, semantic reference, sneaky reference.Eliot Michaelson - 2022 - Mind and Language 37 (5):856-875.
    According to what is perhaps the dominant picture of reference, what a referential term refers to in a context is determined by what the speaker intends for her audience to identify as the referent. I argue that this sort of broadly Gricean view entails, counterintuitively, that it is impossible to knowingly use referential terms in ways that one expects or intends to be misunderstood. Then I sketch an alternative which can better account for such opaque uses of language, or what (...)
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  3. Doing without believing: Intellectualism, knowledge-how, and belief-attribution.Michael Brownstein & Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9):2815–2836.
    We consider a range of cases—both hypothetical and actual—in which agents apparently know how to \ but fail to believe that the way in which they in fact \ is a way for them to \. These “no-belief” cases present a prima facie problem for Intellectualism about knowledge-how. The problem is this: if knowledge-that entails belief, and if knowing how to \ just is knowing that some w is a way for one to \, then an agent cannot both know (...)
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  4. The Lying Test.Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (4):470-499.
    As an empirical inquiry into the nature of meaning, semantics must rely on data. Unfortunately, the primary data to which philosophers and linguists have traditionally appealed—judgments on the truth and falsity of sentences—have long been known to vary widely between competent speakers in a number of interesting cases. The present article constitutes an experiment in how to obtain some more consistent data for the enterprise of semantics. Specifically, it argues from some widely accepted Gricean premises to the conclusion that judgments (...)
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  5. Tolerating Sense Variation.Eliot Michaelson & Mark Textor - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (1):182-196.
    Frege famously claimed that variations in the sense of a proper name can sometimes be ‘tolerated’. In this paper, we offer a novel explanation of this puzzling claim. Frege, we argue, follows Trendelenburg in holding that we think in language—sometimes individually and sometimes together. Variations in sense can be tolerated in just those cases where we are using language to coordinate our actions but are not engaged in thinking together about an issue.
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  6. Shifty characters.Eliot Michaelson - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):519-540.
    In “Demonstratives”, David Kaplan introduced a simple and remarkably robust semantics for indexicals. Unfortunately, Kaplan’s semantics is open to a number of apparent counterexamples, many of which involve recording devices. The classic case is the sentence “I am not here now” as recorded and played back on an answering machine. In this essay, I argue that the best way to accommodate these data is to conceive of recording technologies as introducing special, non-basic sorts of contexts, accompanied by non-basic conventions governing (...)
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  7. Why we should keep talking about fake news.Jessica Pepp, Eliot Michaelson & Rachel Sterken - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (4):471-487.
    In response to Habgood-Coote (2019) and a growing number of scholars who argue that academics and journalists should stop talking about fake news and abandon the term, we argue that the reasons which have been offered for eschewing the term 'fake news' are not sufficient to justify such abandonment. Prima facie, then, we take ourselves and others to be justified in continuing to talk about fake news.
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  8. Unspeakable names.Eliot Michaelson - 2023 - Synthese 201 (2):1-19.
    There are some names which cannot be spoken and others which cannot be written, at least on certain very natural ways of conceiving of them. Interestingly, this observation proves to be in tension with a wide range of views about what names are. Prima facie, this looks like a problem for predicativists. Ultima facie, it turns out to be equally problematic for Millians. For either sort of theorist, resolving this tension requires embracing a revisionary account of the metaphysics of names. (...)
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  9. Who’s Your Ideal Listener?Ethan Nowak & Eliot Michaelson - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):257-270.
    It is increasingly common for philosophers to rely on the notion of an idealised listener when explaining how the semantic values of context-sensitive expressions are determined. Some have identified the semantic values of such expressions, as used on particular occasions, with whatever an appropriately idealised listener would take them to be. Others have argued that, for something to count as the semantic value, an appropriately idealised listener should be able to recover it. Our aim here is to explore the range (...)
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  10. This and That: A Theory of Reference for Names, Demonstratives, and Things in Between.Eliot Michaelson - 2013 - Dissertation, Ucla
    This dissertation sets out to answer the question ''What fixes the semantic values of context-sensitive referential terms—like names, demonstratives, and pronouns—in context?'' I argue that it is the speaker's intentions that play this role, as constrained by the conventions governing the use of particular sorts of referential terms. These conventions serve to filter the speaker's intentions for just those which meet these constraints on use, leaving only these filtered-for intentions as semantically relevant. By considering a wide range of cases, including (...)
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  11. Discourse and method.Ethan Nowak & Eliot Michaelson - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (2):119-138.
    Stojnić et al. (2013, 2017) argue that the reference of demonstratives is fixed without any contribution from the extra-linguistic context. On their `prominence/coherence' theory, the reference of a demonstrative expression depends only on its context-independent linguistic meaning. Here, we argue that Stojnić et al.’s striking claims can be maintained in only the thinnest technical sense. Instead of eliminating appeals to the extra-linguistic context, we show how the prominence/coherence theory merely suppresses them. Then we ask why one might be tempted to (...)
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  12. Indexicality and The Answering Machine Paradox.Jonathan Cohen & Eliot Michaelson - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (6):580-592.
    Answering machines and other types of recording devices present prima facie problems for traditional theories of the meaning of indexicals. The present essay explores a range of semantic and pragmatic responses to these issues. Careful attention to the difficulties posed by recordings promises to help enlighten the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics more broadly.
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  13. Should moral intuitionism go social?Marvin Backes, Matti Eklund & Eliot Michaelson - 2022 - Noûs 57 (4):973-985.
    In recent work, Bengson, Cuneo, and Shafer‐Landau (2020) develop a new social version of moral intuitionism that promises to explain why our moral intuitions are trustworthy. In this paper, we raise several worries for their account and present some general challenges for the broader class of views we call Social Moral Intuitionism. We close by reflecting on Bengson, Cuneo, and Shafer‐Landau's comparison between what they call the “perceptual practice” and the “moral intuition practice”, which we take to raise some difficult (...)
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  14. Meta-Metasemantics, or the Quest for the One True Metasemantics.Ethan Nowak & Eliot Michaelson - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):135-154.
    What determines the meaning of a context-sensitive expression in a context? It is standardly assumed that, for a given expression type, there will be a unitary answer to this question; most of the literature on the subject involves arguments designed to show that one particular metasemantic proposal is superior to a specific set of alternatives. The task of the present essay will be to explore whether this is a warranted assumption, or whether the quest for the one true metasemantics might (...)
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  15.  49
    The Vagaries of Reference.Eliot Michaelson - 2022 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9.
    Evans (1973)’s Madagascar case and other cases like it have long been taken to represent a serious challenge for the Causal Theory of Names. The present essay answers this challenge on behalf of the causal theorist. The key is to treat acts of uttering names as events. Like other events, utterances of names sometimes turn out to have features which only become clear in retrospect.
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  16.  22
    Manipulative Machines.Jessica Pepp, Rachel Sterken, Matthew McKeever & Eliot Michaelson - 2022 - In Michael Klenk & Fleur Jongepier (eds.), The Philosophy of Online Manipulation. Routledge. pp. 91-107.
    The aim of this chapter is to explore various ways of thinking about the concept of manipulation in order to capture both current and potentially future instances of machine manipulation, manipulation on the part of everything from the Facebook advertising algorithm to super-intelligent AGI. Three views are considered: a conservative one, which slightly tweaks extant influence-based theories of manipulation; a dismissive view according to which it doesn't matter much if machines are literally manipulative, provided we can classify them as so (...)
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  17.  14
    Relevance-Based Knowledge Resistance in Public Conversations.Eliot Michaelson, Jessica Pepp & Rachel Sterken - 2022 - In Jesper Strömbäck, Åsa Wikforss, Kathrin Glüer, Torun Lindholm & Henrik Oscarsson (eds.), Knowledge Resistance in High-Choice Information Environments. Routledge. pp. 106-127.
    In addition to ordinary conversations among relatively small numbers of individuals, human societies have public conversations. These are diffuse, ongoing discussions about various topics, which are largely sustained by journalistic activities. They are conversations about news – what is happening now – that members of various groups (such as the residents of a certain country, a certain town, or practitioners of a certain profession) need to know about in their capacity as members of those groups, and about how to react (...)
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  18.  61
    Talking About: An Intentionalist Theory of Reference. [REVIEW]Eliot Michaelson - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    ‘What are you talking about?’ This is, in a sense, the animating question of philosophy of language. Or at least it was at the start of the 20th century. Times change, and interest in this question has perhaps faded. Still, it remains. And now we have a new attempt to answer it, in the form of Elmar Unnsteinnson's Talking About.
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  19.  30
    The Inbetweeners: On Theories of Language Neither Ideal nor Non-Ideal.Eliot Michaelson - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Jessica Keiser’s Non-Ideal Foundations of Language is a serious, sustained attempt to engage in systematic philosophy of language while leaving aside some of th.
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  20. Daylight savings: what an answer to the perceptual variation problem cannot be.Eliot Michaelson & Jonathan Cohen - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (3):833-843.
    Significant variations in the way objects appear across different viewing conditions pose a challenge to the view that they have some true, determinate color. This view would seem to require that we break the symmetry between multiple appearances in favor of a single variant. A wide range of philosophical and non-philosophical writers have held that the symmetry can be broken by appealing to daylight viewing conditions—that the appearances of objects in daylight have a stronger, and perhaps unique, claim to reveal (...)
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  21.  47
    Online Communication.Eliot Michaelson, Jessica Pepp & Rachel Sterken - 2021 - The Philosophers' Magazine 94:90-95.
    We explore the speech act of amplification and its newfound prominence in online speech environments. Then we point to some puzzles this raises for the strategy of ‘fighting speech with more speech’.
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  22. Ethics for Fish.Eliot Michaelson & Andrew Reisner - 2017 - In Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 189-208.
    In this chapter we discuss some of the central ethical issues specific to eating and harvesting fish. We survey recent research on fish intelligence and cognition and discuss possible considerations that are distinctive to questions about the ethics of eating fish as opposed to terrestrial and avian mammals. We conclude that those features that are distinctive to the harvesting and consumption of fish, including means of capture and the central role that fishing plays in many communities, do not suggest that (...)
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  23. Act Consequentialism and Inefficacy.Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - In Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), Food, Ethics, and Society: An Introductory Text with Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 210-214.
    A variety of eating and purchasing practices, in particular vegetarianism, are often motivated via an appeal to their expected good consequences. Lurking in the background, however, is the question: can I really hope to make a difference via my purchases in a social world as complex and wasteful as our own? I review the evidence as it stands and conclude that there are good reasons to suspect that one probably does not make a difference directly via one's purchases. That said, (...)
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  24.  98
    A Kantian Response to Futility Worries?Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - In Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), Food, Ethics, and Society: An Introductory Text with Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 215-218.
    Due in no small part to Kant's own seemingly dim views on the value of animals, Kantian ethics has traditionally been understood to be rather unfriendly ground for arguments in favor of vegetarianism. This has started to change recently, which raises the question: do Kantian approaches offer a way of defending vegetarianism that doesn't run afoul of the sorts of futility worries that afflict consequentialist arguments for vegetarianism? I argue that Kantian approaches in fact face an analogous worry, due to (...)
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  25. The Big Shill.Robert Mark Simpson & Eliot Michaelson - 2020 - Ratio 33 (4):269-280.
    Shills are people who endorse products and companies for pay, while pretending that their endorsements are ingenuous. Here we argue that there is something objectionable about shilling that is not reducible to its bad consequences, the lack of epistemic conscientiousness it often relies upon, or to the shill’s insincerity. Indeed, we take it as a premise of our inquiry that shilling can sometimes be sincere, and that its wrongfulness is not mitigated by the shill’s sincerity, in cases where the shill (...)
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  26.  83
    Justice for Unicorns.Eliot Michaelson - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (3pt3):351-360.
    Many philosophers have suggested that metaethical scepticism is an inherently unstable position. Recently, Dworkin has offered an argument to this effect, claiming that (a) metaethical scepticism entails a set of first-order moral claims, and (b) this set of claims is internally inconsistent. The present essay shows why this argument fails. Along the way, it situates a plausible anti-realist semantics within the range of options for dealing with uncontroversially non-referring terms, like ‘unicorns’.
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  27.  23
    Lying: Language, Knowledge, Ethics, and Politics.Eliot Michaelson & Andreas Stokke (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Philosophers have been thinking about lying for several thousand years, yet this topic has only recently become a central area of academic interest for philosophers of language, epistemologists, ethicists, and political philosophers. Lying: Language, Knowledge, Ethics, Politics provides the first dedicated collection of philosophical essays on the emerging topic of lying. Adopting an inter-subdisciplinary approach, this volume breaks new methodological ground in exploring the ways that a better understanding of language can inform the study of knowledge, ethics, or politics - (...)
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  28. How to Count Animals, More or Less. [REVIEW]Eliot Michaelson - 2021 - Philosophical Review 130 (4):601-605.
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  29.  78
    New Work on Speech Acts. [REVIEW]Eliot Michaelson & Elsa Brisinger - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):783-790.
    New Work on Speech Acts provides exactly what it purports to: a collection of essays on a wide array of topics falling under the general aegis of speech act theory. Just as there is little agreement on what exactly speech act theory is, one finds in this volume a wide variety of topics being addressed, and a wide variety of approaches to these topics. What is constant throughout is the sense that, after several decades in near stasis, speech act theory (...)
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  30.  67
    A Naïve Realist Theory of Colour By Keith Allen. [REVIEW]Eliot Michaelson - 2018 - Analysis 78 (3):580-583.
    A Naïve Realist Theory of Colour By AllenKeithOxford University Press, 2016. x + 204 pp.
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  31.  72
    About the Speaker, by Alessandra Giorgi. [REVIEW]Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - Mind 125 (498):562-565.
  32.  25
    Lying, Misleading, and What is Said: An Exploration in Philosophy of Language and in Ethics, written by Jennifer Mather Saul. [REVIEW]Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 13 (4):491-494.