Eliot Michaelson

I started off working on some core topics in the philosophy of language, like reference and indexicality. More and more, however, I've started to wonder whether many of the classic questions in this part of the field—like ‘What did such-and-such mean (or refer to) in this context?’—are actually well-defined. I'm inclined to think that the best way of making sense of questions like these will ultimately involve substantive ethical, and even political, theorizing. In a nutshell: if language is a tool for living together, then we should not be surprised if (at least some of) our inquiries into certain features of language (like meaning) turn out to be best understood as part of a broader inquiry into how we do, and ought to, live together. I'm also interested in a number of completely unrelated philosophical questions, like: what are abilities? What are colors? How do laws work? What does consent amount to? And how we should treat non-human animals? For a more extensive overview of my work circa 2017, please see the interview I did in 3:16 Magazine.

Published and Forthcoming Papers

Speaker's Reference, Semantic Reference, Sneaky Reference, forthcoming in Mind & Language [abstract].

Daylight Savings: What an Answer to the Perceptual Variation Problem Cannot Be, with Jonathan Cohen, forthcoming in Philosophical Studies [abstract].

Who's Your Ideal Listener?, with Ethan Nowak, forthcoming in Australasian Journal of Philosophy [abstract].

The Big Shill, with Robert Simpson, forthcoming in Ratio [abstract].

Why We Should Keep Talking About Fake News, with Jessica Pepp and Rachel Sterken, forthcoming in Inquiry.

Discourse and Method, with Ethan Nowak, Linguistics & Philosophy 43(2): 119-138, 2020 [abstract].

What's New About Fake News?, with Jessica Pepp and Rachel Sterken, Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16(2): 62-94, 2019 [abstract].

Reference, with Marga Reimer, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2019 Edition.

Lying, Testimony, and Epistemic Vigilance, in The Oxford Handbook of Lying, Oxford University Press, 214-228, 2018 [abstract].

The Lies We Tell Each Other Together, in Lying: Language, Knowledge, Ethics, Politics (eds. Eliot Michaelson and Andreas Stokke), Oxford University Press, 183-205, 2018 [abstract].

Ethics for Fish, with Andrew Reisner, in The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics (eds. Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson, and Tyler Doggett), Oxford University Press, 189-206, 2018 [abstract].

The Lying Test, Mind & Language 31(4): 470-499, 2016 [abstract].

Doing Without Believing, with Michael Brownstein, Synthese 193(9): 2815-2836, 2016 [abstract].

Act Consequentialism and Inefficacy, in The Ethics of Food: An Introductory Textbook (eds. Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson, and Tyler Doggett), Oxford University Press, 210-214, 2016 [abstract].

A Kantian Response to Futility Worries?, in The Ethics of Food: An Introductory Textbook (eds. Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson, and Tyler Doggett), Oxford University Press, 215-218, 2016 [abstract].

Shifty Characters, Philosophical Studies 167(3): 519-540, 2014 [abstract].

Indexicality and the Answering Machine Paradox, with Jonathan Cohen, Philosophy Compass 8(6): 580-592, 2013 [abstract].

Justice for Unicorns, Proceedings of the Aristotelean Society 112(3): 351-360, 2012 [abstract].

Edited Volume

Lying: Language, Knowledge, Ethics, and Politics, co-edited with Andreas Stokke, Oxford University Press, 336pp, 2018.

Book Reviews

Review of Alessandra Giorgi's About the Speaker, Mind 125(498): 562-565, 2016.

Review of Jennifer Saul's Lying, Misleading, and What is Said, Journal of Moral Philosophy 13: 491-494, 2016.


This and That: A Theory of Reference for Names, Demonstratives, and Things in Between, UCLA [abstract].