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Reference Workshop

The year of 2012 brought successful collaborative efforts between Ohio State's departments of philosophy and linguistics -- including the co-hosted “Something about Vagueness” workshop and the Ohio State University/Maribor Dubrovnik conference on the topic of relativism and contextualism.

These successes, however, would prove to be only the start. On March, March 21-23, 2013, the two departments again co-hosted a conference on a topic of considerable crossover appeal to semanticists and philosophers of language: the nature of reference.

Following the model of the previous year's workshop, “Something about Vagueness,” the Reference Workshop was designed to generate interaction between linguists and philosophers. Where possible, linguists commented on philosophers, and philosophers commented on linguists.

The workshop was organized by Professors Stewart Shapiro, William Taschek, Craige Roberts, and graduate students Liela Rotschy, linguistics; and Eric Snyder, philosophy.

Participants from Ohio State included Craige Roberts, linguistics, who gave a talk on demonstratives as indexicals, with commentary from MIT linguist Irene Heim; and William Taschek, who commented on a talk by linguist Paul Elbourne, Queen Mary, University of London, on pronomalization as NP-deletion.

Other speakers included Jeff King, University of Southern California, "Supplementives, the Coordination Account and Conflicting Intentions;" John Hawthorne, Oxford, extemporaneous précis of The Reference Book; Hans Kamp, University of Texas- Austin / Stuttgart; "Deictic Demonstratives in Face-to-Face Communication;" and Robin Jeshion, University of Southern California, "The Uniformity and Syntactic Arguments for Predicativism about Proper Names." Barbara Abbott, linguistics, Michigan State University, provided commentary for Kamp's talk, and Michael Glanzberg, Northwestern University, commented on Jeshion.

The question and answer periods were lively, engaging, and provocative.

Workshop participant Stewart Shapiro positively recalls the mutually supportive tone of the workshop, "There was an exciting interaction between linguists and philosophers. The results were most interesting, as we shared methods and results."

At the conclusion of the conference, Craige Roberts and Professor Emeritus Balakrishnan Chandrasekaran hosted a reception for the speakers and attendees.

The collaborative tradition is destined to continue in March 2014, when the Departments of Philosophy and Linguistics co-host a conference for the third consecutive year -- on the semantics of cardinals.