Changing the Subject

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9 Scopus citations


In Fixing Language, Herman Cappelen defends the project of conceptual engineering from a family of objections that he calls the Strawsonian challenges. Those objections are all versions of this: If I ask you a question about the F's, and you give me an answer that's not about the F's but rather about the G's, then you haven't answered my question. You have changed the subject. I argue that Cappelen's response succeeds in reply to one understanding of the Strawsonian challenge - on which it is motivated by ordinary judgments of samesaying and continuity of topic - but that it fails as a response to another version - on which a parallel objection is motivated by philosophical considerations and is stated in a theoretical register.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-593
Number of pages14
JournalCanadian Journal of Philosophy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Canadian Journal of Philosophy.


  • conceptual analysis
  • conceptual engineering
  • disagreement
  • philosophy of language
  • speech reports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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