Peter Ludlow : biography
Peter Ludlow (born January 16, 1957), who also writes under the pseudonym Urizenus Sklar, is a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. Before moving to Northwestern, Ludlow taught at University of Toronto, the University of Michigan, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has done much interdisciplinary work on the interface of linguistics and philosophy—in particular on the philosophical foundations of Noam Chomsky's theory of generative linguistics and on the foundations of the theory of meaning in linguistic semantics. He has worked on the application of analytic philosophy of language to topics in epistemology, metaphysics, and logic, among other areas.
Ludlow has also established a research program outside of philosophy and linguistics. Here, his research areas include conceptual issues in cyberspace, particularly questions about cyber-rights and the emergence of laws and governance structures in and for virtual communities. MTV.com has described Ludlow as one of the , in part due to his role in showing how video game companies can be challenged as part of the gameplay. In recent years Ludlow has written nonacademic essays on hacktivist culture and related phenomena such as Wikileaks.
Philosophy of language
Intentional transitive verbs
Ludlow's PhD dissertation defended a proposal dating back to the medieval logician Jean Buridan, and revived by W.V.O. Quine in philosophy and James McCawley in linguistics, according to which so-called "intensional transitive verbs" like "seek" and "want" are really propositional attitudes in disguise. He has subsequently developed these ideas in collaboration with the linguists Richard Larson and Marcel den Dikken.
Interpreted logical forms
Ludlow's paper with the semanticist Richard Larson, "Interpreted Logical Forms", advocated a quasi-sententialist view of propositional attitude verbs (a view that has been criticized by Scott Soames in Chapter 7 of his book Beyond Rigidity). Ludlow's response to Soames involves the idea that propositional attitude reports are not supposed to correspond to some fact about what is going on inside the agent's head but rather are created by a speaker S, for the benefit of a hearer H, to help H form some theory about the agent being reported on. Crucial to this account is the idea that the lexicon is dynamic and that speakers engaged in conversation will negotiate the coinage of terms "on the fly" in constructing attitude reports.A version of this account can be found in Ludlow's paper "Interpreted Logical Forms, Belief Attribution, and the Dynamic Lexicon," in K.M. Jaszczolt (ed.) "Pragmatics of Propositional Attitude Reports." Elsevier Science, Ltd, 2000.
The dynamic lexicon
Ludlow's work on Interpreted Logical Forms has led to the development of a view of linguistic meaning according to which meaning shifts are much more common than intuition suggests. He rejects the "common coin" view of word meaning, and argues that word meanings are negotiated on the fly as conversational partners build little microlanguages together. These ideas have subsequently been applied to controversies in epistemology (see below).
Implicit comparison classes
In his article "Implicit Comparison Classes""Implicit Comparison Classes," Linguistics and Philosophy 12, #4, 1989, pp. 521-533. Ludlow argues for the syntactic reality of comparison class variables in adjectival constructions. That is, when one says "the elephant is small", there is an implicit variable for the comparison class (in this case elephants, as in "small for an elephant"), and that variable is represented by the language faculty. That work was influential in subsequent work on the context sensitivity of language by Jason Stanley and Zoltán Gendler Szabó, and has played a role in debates about contextualism in contemporary epistemology.
Contextualism in epistemology
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