Aboutness: A Theory of Subject Matter, with Applications


ACLS Fellowship Program


Linguistics and Philosophy


Aboutness is the relation that meaningful items bear to whatever it is that they are “on,” or “of,” or that they address or concern. It has been studied from many angles, by phenomenologists, semioticians, library scientists, and literary theorists. But it has played almost no role in the theory of meaning – surprisingly, since sentences have aboutness properties if anything does. The project is to develop an account of subject matter that meets the needs of philosophers and is useful also to non-philosophers. It goes on to assess the implications for issues such as verisimilitude, knowledge, assertion, vagueness, loose talk, and truth in fiction.