Stephen Roy Albert Neale (born 9 January 1958) is a British Analytic
philosopher and specialist in the philosophy of language who has
written extensively about meaning, information, interpretation, and
communication, and more generally about issues at the intersection of
philosophy and linguistics. Neale is currently Distinguished Professor
of Philosophy and
Linguistics and holder of the John H. Kornblith
Family Chair in the Philosophy of Science and Values at the Graduate
City University of New York
City University of New York (CUNY) and has previously held
positions at Princeton University, University of California, Berkeley,
and Rutgers University. He is one of the world's leading authorities
on Bertrand Russell's Theory of Descriptions, on the philosophies of
Paul Grice and Donald Davidson, and on the intricacies of formal
arguments in logic known as slingshots. His best known writings are
the books Descriptions (1990) and Facing Facts (2001), and the
articles "Meaning, Grammar, and Indeterminacy" (1987), "
Paul Grice and
the Philosophy of Language" (1992), "Term limits" (1993), "No
Plagiarism Here!" (2001).
4.2 Edited volume
4.3 Selected articles
6 External links
Neale completed his B. Phil in
Linguistics at University College
London working with linguist Deirdre Wilson. He completed his PhD in
Stanford University with philosopher John Perry as his
Neale's writings are primarily in the philosophy of language,
construed broadly enough to intersect with generative linguistics, the
philosophy of mind, cognitive science, philosophical logic, and formal
logic. A realist (rather than a pragmatist) position on truth runs
through his work, although he appears to be agnostic about the
explanatory value of appeals to individual facts in philosophical talk
about truth. Traditional accounts of interpretation are marred, Neale
claims, by (1) a failure to engage correctly with the epistemic
asymmetry of the situations in which producers and consumers of
language find themselves; (2) a consequent failure to distinguish
adequately the metaphysical question of what determines what a speaker
(or writer) means on a given occasion from the epistemological
question of how that particular meaning is identified; (3) a failure
to appreciate the severity of constraints on the formation of
linguistic intentions; (4) failures to appreciate pervasive forms of
underdeterminaton (such as those examined by pragmatists and relevance
theorists); (5) failures to recognise that genuine indeterminacy of
the sort associated with what speakers (and writers) imply incomplete
descriptions, and on a slingshot argument originally used by
Neale is an intentionalist and a pragmatist about the interpretation
of speech and writing, and to this extent his work is rooted firmly in
the Gricean tradition. While probably a Quinean in his attitude
towards indeterminacy in the realm of meaning, Neale is a Chomskyan
and a Fodorian in his stance on what they say (for example, when they
use incomplete definite descriptions); (6) inappropriate reliance on
formal notions of context deriving from indexical logics, (7)
unwarranted faith in transcendent notions of "what is said", "what is
implied" and "what is referred to"; and metaphysics, theory of legal
interpretation, and literary theory. Philosophical problems about
interpretation, context, information content, structure, and
representation form the nexus of Neale's work. He has vigorously
defended Russell's Theory of Descriptions, descriptive theories of
anaphora, Paul Grice's intention-based theory of meaning, and a
general approach to meaning and interpretation he calls "linguistic
pragmatism". His most influential work to date has been on the
underdetermination and indeterminacy associated with uses of so-called
attitude towards syntax and mental representation. Aspects of
syntactic theory (8) a quite general overestimation of the role
traditional compositional semantics can play in explanations of how
humans use language to represent the world and communicate.
Neale also wrote an influential defense of
Saul Kripke in the Times
Literary Supplement against charges that Kripke's new theory of
reference had plagiarized work by Ruth Barcan Marcus.
Important influences on Neale are J. L. Austin, Noam Chomsky, Donald
Davidson, Gareth Evans, Jerry Fodor, Paul Grice, Saul Kripke, John
Perry, W. V. Quine, Bertrand Russell,
Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson.
Philosophers of language who have written their PhD dissertations
under Neale's supervision include Pierre Baumann (University of Puerto
Herman Cappelen (University of Oslo), Josh Dever (University of
Texas, Austin), Eli Dresner (Tel Aviv University), Daniel Harris
(CUNY), Angel Pinillos (Arizona State University), and Elmar
Unnsteinsson (University College Dublin).
Descriptions MIT Press, 1993. (Originally published 1990.)
Facing Facts Oxford University Press, 2002. (Originally published
2001.) ISBN 0-19-924715-3
Special issue commemorating 100th anniversary of Russell's "On
Denoting" Oxford University Press, 2005.
Term limits Revisited Philosophical Perspectives 22, 1 (2008),
On Location. In Situating Semantics: Essays in Honour of John Perry.
MIT Press 2007, pp. 251–393.
Pragmatism and Binding. In
Semantics versus Pragmatics. Oxford
University Press, 2005, pp. 165–286.
A Century Later. In Mind 114, 2005, pp. 809–871.
This, That, and the Other. In Descriptions and Beyond. Oxford
University Press, 2004, pp. 68–182.
No Plagiarism Here! Times Literary Supplement. 9 February 2001,
Meaning, Truth, Ontology. In Interpreting Davidson. Stanford: CSLI,
(2001) pp. 155–197.
On Representing". In The Library of Living Philosophers: Donald
Davidson. L. E. Hahn (ed.), Illinois: Open Court, (1999)
Coloring and Composition. In Philosophy and
Westview Press, 1999, pp. 35–82.
Context and Communication. In Readings in the Philosophy of Language.
MIT Press (1997), pp. 415–474.
Logical Form and LF. In Noam Chomsky: Critical Assessments Routledge,
1993, pp. 788–838.
Term limits. Philosophical Perspectives 7, 1993, pp. 89–124.
Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language.
Linguistics and Philosophy
15, 5, 1992, pp. 509–59.
Descriptive Pronouns and Donkey Anaphora.
Journal of Philosophy 87, 3,
1990, pp. 113–150.
Meaning, Grammar, and Indeterminacy. Dialectica 41, 4, 1987,
^ Descriptions MIT Press, 1993. (Originally published 1990.)
^ This, That, and the Other. In Descriptions and Beyond. Oxford
University Press, 2004, pp. 68–182.
^ "A Century Later". 2005.
^ Facing Facts Oxford University Press, 2002. (Originally published
2001.) ISBN 0-19-924715-3
^ Linguistic Pragmatism. Oxford University Press. Forthcoming
Neale's home page
Neale's faculty web page at the
CUNY Graduate Center
Neale's archive on the
CUNY Philosophy Commons
Protosociology volume on Neale's Work
Stephen Neale on Russell's Theory of Descriptions
Review of 'Facing Facts, by John MacFarlane
Philosophy of language
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Ferdinand de Saussure
Benjamin Lee Whorf
J. L. Austin
A. J. Ayer
G. E. M. Anscombe
P. F. Strawson
Willard Van Orman Quine
Causal theory of reference
Contrast theory of meaning
Descriptivist theory of names
Direct reference theory
Mediated reference theory
Theory of descriptions
Principle of compositionality
Sense and reference
Philosophy of information
ISNI: 0000 0001 1774 184X