Stephen Neale
Neale in 2007
Born(1958-01-09)9 January 1958
Alma materUniversity College London (BA)
Stanford University (PhD)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of language

Stephen Roy Albert Neale (born 9 January 1958) is a British philosopher and specialist in the philosophy of language who has written extensively about meaning, information, interpretation, and communication, and more generally about issues at the intersection of philosophy and linguistics. Neale is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics and holder of the John H. Kornblith Family Chair in the Philosophy of Science and Values at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY).

Education and career

Neale completed his BA in linguistics at University College London working with linguist Deirdre Wilson. He completed his PhD in Philosophy at Stanford University with philosopher John Perry as his dissertation advisor.

Prior to joining the CUNY faculty, Neale held positions at Princeton University, University of California, Berkeley, and Rutgers University.

Neale's doctoral students include Pierre Baumann (University of Puerto Rico), Herman Cappelen (University of Oslo), Josh Dever (University of Texas, Austin), Eli Dresner (Tel Aviv University), Brian Robinson (Texas A&M University–Kingsville), Daniel Harris (CUNY), Angel Pinillos (Arizona State University), and Elmar Unnsteinsson (University College Dublin).

Philosophical work

Neale's writings are primarily in the philosophy of language. His research intersects with generative linguistics, the philosophy of mind, cognitive science, metaphysics, philosophical logic, the philosophy of law and the philosophy of archaeology.

Philosophical problems about interpretation, context, information content, structure, and representation form the nexus of this work. Neale is an intentionalist and a pragmatist about the interpretation of speech and writing, and to this extent his work is rooted in the Gricean tradition. He has vigorously defended an intention-based theory of meaning, and a general approach to meaning and interpretation he calls "linguistic pragmatism" that can be tailored to legal contexts. He has also defended and extended Russell's Theory of Descriptions and descriptive theories of anaphora. According to Neale traditional accounts of interpretation are marred by failures that can be eradicated by (1) engaging correctly with the epistemic asymmetry of the situations in which producers and consumers of language find themselves; (2) distinguishing adequately the metaphysical question of what determines what a speaker (or writer or signer) means on a given occasion from the epistemological question of how that particular meaning is identified; (3) appreciating the severity of constraints on the formation of linguistic intentions; (4) appreciating pervasive forms of underdeterminaton (such as those examined by pragmatists and relevance theorists); (5) failures to recognise that genuine indeterminacy of the sort associated with what speakers (and writers) "imply" frequently applies to what is "said" too; (6) abandoning reliance on formal notions of context deriving from indexical logics, (7) scrutinising transcendent notions of "what is said", "what is implied" and "what is referred to"; and (8) correcting the role traditional compositional semantics plays in explanations of how humans use language to represent the world and communicate.

Neale also wrote an influential defense of Saul Kripke in the Times Literary Supplement against charges that Kripke's new theory of reference had plagiarized work by Ruth Barcan Marcus.[1]



Edited volume

Selected articles


  1. ^ Neale, Stephen. "Neale Kripke".