Who’s in Control? Re-examining agency in a world of bias.

We are delighted to announce that CCR Director Prof. Emma Borg has been awarded a three year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for work exploring human agency and the extent to which our actions can be considered rational or irrational. The project starts in October 2020 and research events relating to it will appear here in due course.

Leverhulme Major Fellowships 2019

Millikan, Meaning and Minimalism

CCR Director Emma Borg’s paper ‘Millikan, Meaning and Minimalism‘ has just been recognised as one of the Top 20 most downloaded papers from the journal *Theoria* in 2017-18. The paper, which explores connections between Ruth Millikan’s seminal naturalistic approach to meaning and Borg’s own ‘semantic minimalist’ account, was written on the occasion of the award of the Rolf Schock Prize to Millikan.

Summer Seminar 2018: Pain and belief

In the run up to our ‘Pain and Belief: from meaning to modulation’ conference (12-13th June), the CCR summer seminar this will be on the same topic, looking at papers by the external speakers. Timetable is below and all are very welcome!

All meetings are: Tuesdays 2-3.30pm

Readings available at:


8th May Williams: What can evolutionary theory tell us about chronic pain? G79 Psych Tim Salomons
15th May Aydede: ‘Pain: perception or introspection?’ (8 pages), ‘Is the experience of pain transparent?’ Sec. 6 Edith Morley G73 (Philosophy) Emma Borg
29th May Wiech: Deconstructing the sensation of pain G79 Psych Wiebke Gandhi
5th June Bain: ? G79 Psych Nat Hansen
12th & 13th June PAIN AND BELIEF CONFERENCE https://sites.google.com/site/readingemotions/  


Conscientious objection in healthcare?

Healthcare professionals, or those with links to practitioners, might be interested in this piece on conscientious objection in healthcare, from Reading philosopher Prof. David Oderberg, ahead of the 2018 Committee Stage for the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill in the House of Lords:



Philosophy PhD funding: Open Day, 4th December 2017

On 4 December 2017, the University of Reading will host an Open Day to provide an opportunity for those interested in applying to the AHRC SWW DTP for a PhD studentship to learn more about postgraduate research and training at Reading. Funding is available for pursuing interdisciplinary projects at the interface of philosophy and psychology.

This Open Day will enable you to learn more about the AHRC SWW DTP and the University of Reading. It will provide:

  • a workshop on developing and writing an AHRC SWW DTP PhD research proposal and application
  • an opportunity to meet current SWW DTP students and academic staff, as well as prospective supervisors by prior arrangement by e-mail with them
  • and a tour of related Departments and facilities.


This Open Day will be held at the Graduate School, University of Reading from 2.15-4pm on Monday 4 December. If you wish to attend please contact elena.bedisti@reading.ac.uk

For more information on the wide range of Doctoral research and training opportunities and AHRC funded studentships offered by the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership please see the SWW DTP web-site: http://www.sww-ahdtp.ac.uk.

ESPP Poster Award

CCR is delighted to announce that Sarah Fisher was awarded the Poster Prize at the 25th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, held at the University of Hertfordshire, 14-17th August. Her award-winning poster can be seen in an earlier post to this blog. Well done Sarah!

1st AHRC Pervasive Context Conference: Beijing 24th and 25th October 2015

Two members of CCR, Emma Borg and Nat Hansen, have recently returned from Beijing, where, in collaboration with colleagues Prof. YE Chuang and Dr. LI Qilin at Peking University, they were hosting the first conference held under the auspices of ‘Pervasive Context’ – an AHRC funded international research network. The objective of the network is to explore the way in which features of a context of utterance can influence linguistic or communicated content and the network had already held a number of virtual meetings during 2014-15, but this conference was the first chance for everyone to get together in person. Emma and Nat had a fantastic time in China and were overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm of their hosts. Photos from Beijing conference can be seen at:


The week started with a two and half hour masterclass by Emma on 20th October. The topic was ‘Semantic minimalism and other theories’ and Emma laid out what is at stake between different accounts of the relationship between meaning and context, and tried to show why one might (perhaps) be attracted to so-called ‘minimal semantics’ (the position Emma has argued for in two OUP monographs). Later in the week (on the 23rd), Nat gave his masterclass on ‘Contextualism: Evidence and Explanations’ which introduced debates concerning the empirical foundation of the contextualism-minimalism debate and discussed recent experiments that confirm contextualist judgments about the effects of context on truth value judgments. Both the masterclasses seemed to go very well, with lots of constructive comments and discussion.

However it wasn’t all work: before the conference Chuang, Qilin and other members of the Peking Department very kindly took the conference speakers to visit the Badaling section of the Great Wall – an absolutely amazing sight, made even more splendid by the beautiful autumn colours of the surroundings. (Some of the party decided to make their way down from the Wall via the ‘sliding cars’ – rollercoaster-type chairs which descended by gravity, and which the driver stopped using a manual hand break, an interesting ride!) Throughout the trip, Peking colleagues were incredibly generous with their time and effort, for instance, taking the party on a guided tour of their beautiful Peking campus and treating us all to a huge amount of amazing Chinese food (from a fantastic Mongolian cook-your-own-food buffet to a traditional Peking duck restaurant, where the conference banquet was held).

The conference itself involved leading figures from the semantics-pragmatics debate and included philosophers, linguists and cognitive scientist. It was also a very international programme, with the nationality of speakers including UK, France, Spain, China, New Zealand, Australia, USA and Guatemala. The full programme of speakers and titles was as follows:


Emma Borg

Philosophy, University of Reading

Explanatory roles for minimal content
Stephen Crain

Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), Macquarie, Australia

The basic meanings of logical words
Nat Hansen

Philosophy, University of Reading

Cross-cultural context sensitivity
Robyn Carston

Linguistics, University College London

Polysemy, pragmatics, and lexicon(s)
Chuang Ye

Philosophy, Peking University

The meaning of hidden indexicals and the character of Kaplanian indexicals
Teresa Marques

Philosophy, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

Guillermo Estuardo Del Pinal

Philosophy, ZAS Berlin

Prototypes, compositionality, and conceptual components
Francois Recanati

Philosophy, Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris

Semantic entry points for speaker’s meaning


Both Emma and Nat felt the conference was a great success and they would like to extend their thanks to all the speakers, to the conference audience and to everyone at Peking who worked so hard on the event. Next summer, 25-26th June, the second Pervasive Context conference will take place at the University of Reading; details of the programme will be advertised here soon. Anyone who would like to attend this event should contact e.g.n.borg@reading.ac.uk. Emma and Nat also hope to produce a volume of conference papers with OUP in the future, title yet to be decided, so those interested in this topic but unable to attend should still be able to read selected papers from the network conferences.


Talk cancellation/New talk: 19th March

Tim Salomons talk scheduled for 19th March has been cancelled. It will be rescheduled for later in the year, details to follow.

There will be a Psychology seminar on Thusrday 19th March which is likely to be of interest to CCR members:

Dr Ofer Golan, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. http://psychology.biu.ac.il/en/golan

Title: “Using technology based interventions to facilitate emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum conditions”.

Time: 1-2pm

Location: Meteorology, GU01