Philosophical Approaches to Language and Communication

Volume 1

by Piotr Stalmaszczyk (Volume editor) Martin Hinton (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 262 Pages


This two-volume collection showcases a wide range of modern approaches to the philosophical study of language. Contributions illustrate how these strands of research are interconnected and show the importance of such a broad outlook. The aim is to throw light upon some of the key questions in language and communication and also to inspire, inform, and integrate a community of researchers in philosophical linguistics.
Volume one concentrates on fundamental theoretical topics. This means considering vital questions about what languages are and how they relate to reality, and describing some of the key areas of thought in linguistics and the philosophy of language. Contributors also discuss how philosophy influences related fields such as translation, pragmatics, and argumentation.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Editors and Contributors
  • Introduction (Piotr Stalmaszczyk and Martin Hinton)
  • Balancing Evolution and Acquisition in Theoretical Linguistics: Tensions and Prospects (Gabe Dupre)
  • What Are Single Languages and What Kind of Relations Hold Between Them? (Katja Stepec)
  • Language, Languages, and Reality: A Brief Overview of Linguistic Ontology (Filippo Batisti)
  • The Ghosts of Ordinary Language Philosophy: Past, Present and Yet-To-Come (Aeddan Shaw)
  • Continental Philosophy of Language (Andrzej Pawelec)
  • Circle Takes the Square: A Hermeneutical Perspective on Intercultural Communication (Chris Genovesi)
  • The Philosophy of Argumentation (Martin Hinton)
  • Philosophical Insights in Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis (Piotr Cap)
  • The Philosophy of Translation and the Translation of Philosophy (Łukasz Bogucki)
  • Uses of Language and Literature: Ethical Grounds of Deconstruction and Pragmatism (Wit Pietrzak)
  • Philosophy of Poetics and Philosophical Hermeneutics: Poetic Imagination and the Linguality of Being-in-the-World (Małgorzata Hołda)
  • Index
  • Series Index

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Editors and Contributors

Filippo Batisti

Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Email: filippo.batisti@unive.it

ORCID: 0000-0001-6490-3784

Łukasz Bogucki

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: lukasz.bogucki@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0003-0543-5890

Piotr Cap

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: piotr.cap@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0002-7685-4112

Gabriel Dupre

Keele University, UK

Email: G.g.dupre@keele.ac.uk

ORCID: 0000-0001-9312-4691

Chris Genovesi

University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Institute for Logic, Cognition, Language, and Information (ILCLI) and Language, Action and Thought (LAT) research group, Spain

Email: genovesi.c@gmail.com

ORCID: 0000-0001-8890-8336

Martin Hinton

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: martin.hinton@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0003-0374-8834

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Małgorzata Hołda

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: malgorzata.holda@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0003-3772-6297

Andrzej Pawelec

Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland Email: andrzej.pawelec@uj.edu.pl

ORCID: 0000-0002-9807-9065

Wit Pietrzak

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: wit.pietrzak@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0003-2231-7036

Aeddan Shaw

Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland

Email: aeddan.shaw@uj.edu.pl

ORCID: 0000-0001-8622-1821

Piotr Stalmaszczyk

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: piotr.stalmaszczyk@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0002-1407-7610

Katja Stepec

Independent scholar

Email: katja.stepec@web.de

ORCID: 0000-0002-6422-5589

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Piotr Stalmaszczyk and Martin Hinton


The relationship between philosophy and linguistics is one of symbiosis. Whether the field in question is referred to as philosophy of language, philosophy of communication, philosophy of linguistics, or theoretical linguistics, there are clear connections in both the methodology and the subject matter: a broadly philosophical approach is taken to the study of words, texts, and the way in which we use them to interact with one another and build our societies. Advances in philosophy allow us to better understand what language does, and progress in linguistics shows us how it does it. By learning truths about how we communicate, we uncover the secrets of how we think; by examining the nature of our language, we throw light upon the workings of our minds; by connecting what we know of ideas with what we know of words, then, we begin to explain ourselves.

The fostering of relationships and dialogue between linguists and philosophers of language has been the long-term goal of both the books in this series and the PhiLang conferences at the University of Lodz, which are their counterpart and their genesis. The editors have wide-ranging interests in both conducting research and propagating it, as evidenced by a host of recent works. The monograph Evaluating the Language of Argument (Hinton 2021) employs insights into the nature of language from linguists and philosophers in the construction of a systematic procedure for argument evaluation and a thorough dissection of the concept of fallacy. There have been special issues, such as ‘Names and Fictions’ in the journal Organon F (2021), ‘Inferring Truth and Meaning’ in Studia Semiotyczne (2020), and ‘Philosophy of Argumentation’ in Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric (2018), and a plethora of edited volumes including Understanding Predication (2017), Objects of Inquiry in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics (2018), and Philosophical Insights into Pragmatics (2019). Of particular note are the two most recent volumes: The Lvov-Warsaw School and Contemporary Philosophy of Language (2021), which assesses Poland’s most celebrated philosophical movement in the light of modern scholarship, and the major collection The Cambridge Handbook of the Philosophy of Language (2021).

The current work stretches across two volumes in its endeavour to bring together a range of ideas covering the broad, yet clearly defined, expanse of research being conducted as linguistic philosophy and philosophical linguistics across the world today. Some of the contributions reflect directly on these ←9 | 10→relationships, others display their value in tackling specific issues arising from our fascination with the tools of language which we have created but hardly know how. The chapters, then, not only form a collection of state-of-the-art articles on research into language, they also illustrate the interconnections among the branches of science tasked with that research, and, most importantly, stand as a testimony and monument to the community of scholars which has produced them.

The two parts to this book are not strictly divided by theme, but it may be said that the first volume focuses largely on fundamental topics in the field, and the second contains more detailed studies of particular issues exercising researchers today. These studies, in contrast to the more theoretical work in the first volume, often employ the experimental approaches which are of increasing importance across the field of philosophy. In this way, the collection as a whole covers not only the broad area of study into language, but also a full range of methodologies by which it may be conducted.

Volume one begins with a consideration of how we come to know languages in Gabe Dupre’s ‘Balancing Evolution and Acquisition in Theoretical Linguistics: Tensions and Prospects.’ In this chapter, Dupre attempts to reconcile the concepts of innate linguistic knowledge with the constraints of evolutionary biology in an account of language acquisition. This involves deriving the complexity of linguistic competence from an underlying simple system. The chapter closes with some remarks on the remaining difficulties and prospects for such an explanatory strategy. This is followed by ‘What Are Single Languages and What Kind of Relations Hold Between Them?’ by Katja Stepec. This chapter looks at how we can account for single languages and whether relations between languages should be considered internal or external. The author combines philosophy of language with the metaphysics of relations in taking a pragmatist approach to show the possibility of such external relations. The third chapter, ‘Language, Languages, and Reality. A Brief Overview on Linguistic Ontology’ by Filippo Batisti discusses five interrelated ideas about the ontology of language and possible consequences of perceiving languages as objects. These include the notions that language exists as a bio-mental feature of humans, that the perception of languages as discrete autonomous systems is a superfluous fiction, and that minority languages should be preserved in order to maintain the bond between peoples and their culture.

Having addressed, or at least opened, some of the key themes concerning the nature of language itself, we move to a series of articles describing philosophical methods and approaches to investigate. Aeddan Shaw’s ‘The Ghosts of Ordinary Language Philosophy: Past, Present and Yet-To-Come’ looks at ←10 | 11→the main developments and core conceptions of ordinary language philosophy, and especially the sense it which it is a project which refuses to die off. This involves a review of historically important figures, such as Austin and Ryle, a discussion of their contemporary successors, and speculation as to the future course of this approach. In ‘Continental Philosophy of Language,’ meanwhile, Andrzej Pawelec offers an overview of the contribution made by that tradition to illustrate the importance of combining naturalistic with speculative approaches in the study of language. The chapter aims to show that there is much more to language than the system of signs used for referential purposes which is the focus of analytic research, and that it is normally invisible expressive networks, beyond standard empirical study, which make language as a ‘positive entity’ possible. Chris Genovesi, in ‘Circle Takes the Square: A Hermeneutical Perspective on Intercultural Communication,’ shows the role of philosophical hermeneutics in pragmatic theorizing on communication. He describes how three important interrelated concepts from Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics can be integrated into pragmatic theorizing on communication: the hermeneutic circle, prejudice, and the fusion of horizons. Martin Hinton, in ‘The Philosophy of Argumentation’ provides both an overview of the field of argumentation and a discussion of its relationship to the wider field of philosophy. He describes how the traditional approaches of logic, rhetoric and dialectic are reflected in modern theories of argumentation and claims that researchers are currently shifting towards a more systematic approach which absorbs insights from each of these strands of work. A similar theme is continued in the subsequent chapters: Piotr Cap’s ‘Philosophical Insights in Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis’ examines the role philosophy can play in addressing questions of the meaning, function and use of language, arguing that the conceptions and framework of philosophy should not be viewed as ‘external’ to discourse, since discourse and discourse study involving pragmatic tools are, in themselves, areas of philosophical practice; and Łukasz Bogucki’s ‘The Philosophy of Translation and the Translation of Philosophy’ considers the interplay between how philosophy is translated and how the very nature of translation is understood. Bogucki raises the difficult questions of translatability and equivalence and discusses the features of philosophical writing which make it particularly challenging for translators.

The final two chapters of the first volume bring literary texts into our discussion. In ‘Uses of Language and Literature: Ethical Grounds of Deconstruction and Pragmatism,’ Wit Pietrzak discusses the relevance of literature to continental philosophy, citing the examples of Heidegger, Derrida, and Rorty. He argues that these thinkers, by making literary texts a part of their investigations, introduce an ethical dimension to their work, allowing a prominent position for ←11 | 12→ideas like alterity and diversity. Małgorzata Hołda’s ‘Philosophy of Poetics and Philosophical Hermeneutics: Poetic Imagination and the Linguality of Being-in-the-World’ examines the close relationship between the linguality of being, the poetic word, and poetic imagination. She argues that Heidegger and Gadamer, through their recognition of the oneness of language and Being, foster an understanding in which metaphor in language is not considered decorative, but rather a part of its essential character.

Volume two covers a similarly wide range of topics, looking in detail at a number of phenomena of particular interest to contemporary scholars. These include the nature of propositions, issues arising from disagreement and subjectivity, and the relationship between thought and language. Other chapters take up themes in the philosophy of communication, considering implicature and inference, as well as contextualism and communicative success. A common thread is the importance of the experimental turn in contemporary philosophy, with empiricist methodology both employed and discussed. The volume ends with chapters focussed on the justification of beliefs, and the normativity of meaning and communication.

All of the chapters in these volumes were subjected to double-blind peer review, in most cases by one of the other authors and one external reviewer. As always, great thanks are due to those who agree to take on the task of reviewing: their work provides invaluable suggestions and forces us all to think harder about that which we may have got wrong or expressed poorly. We extend our thanks also to Przemek Ostalski and Chris Genovesi for their help with copy-editing. Finally, our gratitude is due to all of those who have questioned, commented, criticised, and encouraged at conferences, seminars, and workshops as we have endeavoured to maintain a spirit of community through a period of global anxiety and restrictions on movement. We look forward to more face-to-face meetings, more mutual inspiration and support, and more ideas and volumes in which to express them in the years to come.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (May)
philosophy of language semantics pragmatics argumentation meaning hermeneutics
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 262 pp., 1 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Piotr Stalmaszczyk (Volume editor) Martin Hinton (Volume editor)

Piotr Stalmaszczyk is a professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Lodz, where he holds the Chair of English and General Linguistics. His research is concerned with theory of language and philosophy of language and linguistics. Martin Hinton is an assistant professor of English Linguistics at the University of Lodz, where he studies argumentation theory and philosophical linguistics. His chief area of interest is in fallacy theory and argument evaluation.


Title: Philosophical Approaches to Language and Communication