CONTEXT-17 Home Page

  CONTEXT-17: Keynote Speakers

François Récanati
François Récanati

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Paris, France

He has been a member of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris since 1979. In 2014, he was awarded the CNRS Silver Medal and was made a honorary doctor of the University of Stockholm. In addition to his CNRS job, he is the Head of a research lab in philosophy, linguistics and cognitive science hosted by Ecole Normale Supérieure. He taught in several major universities, including Berkeley, Harvard, Geneva, and St Andrews. He is a co-founder and past President of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy and was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012. He has numerous publications in the philosophy of language and mind include Meaning and Force (Cambridge University Press, 1987), Direct Reference : From Language to Thought (Blackwell 1993),Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta (MIT Press/Bradford Books 2000), Literal Meaning (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Perspectival Thought (Oxford University Press, 2007), Philosophie du langage (et de l’esprit) (Gallimard 2008), Truth-Conditional Pragmatics (Oxford University Press, 2010) and Mental Files (Oxford University Press, 2012).

"Indexical thought"
I will analyse indexical thoughts (e.g. first person thoughts, or demonstrative thoughts) in terms of functional properties of the vehicles through which we think such thoughts. These vehicles I will describe as ‘mental files’, whose role is to store information derived through certain types of contextual relation to objects in the environment. Mental files, I will argue, are typed by the type of contextual relation they exploit, and in this respect they are like indexicals. In the last part of the talk, if time permits, I will discuss various attempts to account for indexical thinking purely at the level of content, without bringing the vehicles into the picture.

Fausto Giunchiglia
Fausto Giunchiglia

University of Trento (Italy)

Fausto Giunchiglia is a professor of Computer Science at the Faculty for Information Engineering and Computer Science, University of Trento (Italy). He was a PhD student and Visiting Fellow at the Stanford University (USA) and Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh (UK). His main research field is in semantics, covering a wide range of topics, including knowledge representation, knowledge management, and knowledge diversity. Within this general field, his main focus is on diversity. His publications in this area include:
  • F. Giunchiglia (1993) Contextual reasoning.Epistemologia, special issue on "I Linguaggi e le Macchine", Tilgher, Genova, vol. 16, pp. 345-364.
  • F. Giunchiglia and L. Serafini (1994), Multilanguage Hierarchical Logics (or: How we can do without Modal Logics). Artificial Intelligence, Elsevier Science Publishers, Vol. 65, pp. 29-70.
  • F. Giunchiglia and P. Bouquet (1998). A Context-Based Framework for Mental Representation. In M.A. Gernsbacher and S.J. Derry (editors), Proceedings of the 20th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, pp. 392-397, Madison, WI (USA).
  • Ghidini C. and Giunchiglia F. (2001), Local Models Semantics, or Contextual Reasoning = Locality + Compatibility. Artificial Intelligence, Elsevier Science Publishers, vol. 127, pp. 221-259.
  • Bouquet P., Giunchiglia F., Van Harmelen F., Serafini L., and Stuckenschmidt H. (2004). C-OWL: Contextualizing Ontologies. Journal of Web Semantics, NuovaSerie, vol. 26, pp. 1-19.
  • Giunchiglia, F., Maltese, V., and Dutta, B. (2012). Domains and context: first steps towards managing diversity in knowledge. Journal of Web Semantics, special issue on Reasoning with Context in the Semantic Web.
Presentation: "Personal context modelling and annotations"
Context must be modelled in a way that accounts for the complexity faced in the real world. Current context modelling approaches mostly focus on a priori defined environments, while the majority of human life is in open, and hence complex and unpredictable, environments. We propose a context model where the context is organized according to the different dimensions of the user environment. In addition, we propose the notions of endurants and perdurants as a way to describe how humans aggregate their context depending either on space or time, respectively. To ground our modelling approach in the reality of users, we collaborate with sociology experts in an internal university project aiming at understanding how behavioral patterns of university students in their everyday life affect their academic performance. Our contribution is a methodology for developing annotations general enough to account for human life in open domains and to be consistent with both sensor data and sociological approaches.

Robert Stalnaker
Robert Stalnaker


Robert is the author of Inquiry (Bradford Books, 1984), of a series of papers on the logic and semantics of conditionals, most of which are included in an anthology on conditionals, Ifs, edited by W. Harper, G. Pearce, and Stalnaker (Reidel, 1981), and of a number of articles on the semantics and pragmatics of natural language [for example, "Pragmatics," Synthese, 22 (1970) and "Presuppositions," Journal of Philosophical Logic, 2 (1973)]. Papers extending ideas on the problem of intentionality and the relation between language and thought set out in Inquiry include "On What's in the Head," Philosophical Perspectives, 3 (1990) and "Narrow Content" in C. A. Anderson and J. Owens (eds), Propositional Attitudes, (CSLI, 1990). His two volumes of collected papers are: Context and Content (Oxford, 1999), and Ways a World Might Be (Oxford, 2003). Current work in progress concerns the philosophical foundations of "possible worlds" semantics for modal and conditional logics, and uses of this semantic framework to help clarify metaphysical questions about necessity and possibility, concepts of knowledge, common knowledge and mutual belief, inductive reasoning, rational decision-making, and the relation between modality and quantification. One of his most well known achievements is the development of the notion of common ground, or cognitive context, which has been at the origin of many projects and formal treatments of cognitive aspects of language and mind.

Presentation “Conversational strategy”   (see the handout)
The common ground framework represents a discourse context as a body of information that is presumed to be shared by the participants in a conversation. This body of information provides a resource of the interpretation of what is said, and it also defines the range of possibilities that speech acts are intended to distinguish between. The aim of this pragmatic framework is to provide tools to explain the dynamics of discourse – the way in which the contents of speech acts are determined as a function of context, and the way in which those acts in turn alter the context in which subsequent speech acts are interpreted. The simplest kind of discourse is the sharing of information. The body of information that defines the common ground grows as different speakers pool their knowledge. But conversation can involve disagreement and debate as well as the sharing of information, and can involve deliberation about what to do as well as discussion of what is true. While any communicative practice requires shared background information, and some shared values and aims, it is obvious that communication is also compatible with considerable disagreement about both facts and values. The presumption of shared information and common purpose that make communication possible can also be exploited and manipulated. In this talk, I will sketch the general lines of this pragmatic framework, starting with the simple cases where cooperation predominates, but then emphasizing the way contexts evolve in situations in which conflict and disagreement play a central role, particularly in public discourse. The kind of strategic reasoning that game-theoretic concepts are designed to clarify is particularly interesting when common interest mixes with conflict of interest, and I will consider some patterns of strategic reasoning in contentious communicative situations.