I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy of Language & Linguistic Theory at Newcastle University, where I’m supervised by Profs Noel Burton-Roberts, Anders Holmberg and Maggie Tallerman for my thesis, Syntax Without Words.

I'm most interested in how generative and computational models of language ought to be constrained by certain philosophical problems having to do with the mental representation of linguistic knowledge. In particular, my work argues that we currently face a serious difficulty in linguistics, in that what we imagine to be the relationship between form and meaning, or syntax and semantics, is not cognitively real, but is rather an illusion of folk psychology, meaning that we do not as yet have a properly cognitive science of language.

To correct this, I believe we must reconcile the best of Chomskyan linguistics (and nativism generally) with the best of specifically Wittgensteinian behaviourism. Though this is in many ways profoundly counter-intuitive—and it requires us to reconceptualise some of the basic practices of linguistics—the end result is a truly cognitivist research program which opens up new possibilities for models of human intelligence and its origins.



Hackett, Callum. 2017. Justifications for a discontinuity theory of language evolution. Biolinguistics 11. 171-220.