I’m a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer in Linguistics & Philosophy of Language at Newcastle University, where I’m supervised by Noel Burton-Roberts, Anders Holmberg and Maggie Tallerman for my thesis, Idols of the Mind: Problems of symbol grounding in linguistics and cognitive science.

I’m most interested in how generative and computational models of language ought to address certain logical problems having to do with the acquisition of linguistic knowledge, from both developmental and evolutionary perspectives. Here, I believe we currently face a serious difficulty, in that what we imagine to be the learned relationship between form and meaning cannot be real, but is rather an illusion of folk psychology, meaning that we do not yet have a properly cognitive science of language.

To correct this, I believe we must reconcile the best of Chomskyan linguistics with the best of specifically Wittgensteinian behaviourism, which is achievable but only by a radical reconception of the explanatory role of mental representations in cognitive science. Though the combination of nativism and (a restricted kind of) behaviourism is in many ways profoundly counter-intuitive, the end result is a truly cognitivist research program which opens up new possibilities for understanding how the innate basis of intelligence interfaces with social practice.



Justifications for a discontinuity theory of language evolution in Biolinguistics.

And now counting down the hours until thesis submission...