Across a large number of departments at the University of Maryland, researchers are pursuing lines of inquiry pertaining to mental states like beliefs and desires. The goal of PHLINT – the internal workshop of PHLING – is to afford an opportunity for members of the UMD community to share their work with colleagues from other departments on campus, bringing into conversation research in different disciplines. Our hope is that this will foster greater communication between researchers in the UMD community who are working on this important topic. To this end, the PHLING students invite UMD researchers (postdoctoral, graduate, or undergraduate) to contribute poster presentations to our workshop. The workshop will also feature talks by invited speakers from the faculty of the Linguistics, Philosophy and Psychology departments, including Dr. Jonathan Beier, Dr. Valentine Hacquard, Dr. Aidan Lyon and Dr. Eric Pacuit.
The notion that minds contain mental states such as beliefs and desires is one of the core components of human folk psychology. Our beliefs about the mental states of other individuals allow us to predict and explain their behavior. Questions about the nature of these mental states are central to a number of disciplines. Philosophers discuss the relationship between external objects and mental states, and ask whether and how that relationship is mediated by language. Developmentalists investigate how children identify and attribute mental states to others and the capacities that allow them to do so. Semanticists worry about the nature of the linguistic representations we manipulate when we talk about mental states like desires and beliefs. Furthermore, language acquisitionists study how a child maps these linguistic representations onto conceptual representations of desire and belief. Game theorists ask how we might use information about others’ desires or beliefs to make decisions. Still others investigate the neural bases of these capacities, theorize about the felicity conditions for the use of belief reports, or model the capacities needed to identify or refer to desires and beliefs.