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International Cognitive Science Conference to Honor Pomona College Professor Jay David Atlas

Pomona College will host an international linguistics and philosophy conference, “Asserting, Meaning, and Implying” on April 1 & April 2. The conference, being held in honor of the 60th birthday of Pomona Professor Jay David Atlas, will feature 11 internationally renowned scholars in the fields of pragmatics, semantics, logic and philosophy of language. The topics were chosen to reflect the broad and profound influence of Atlas' research over three decades of scholarship.

Atlas, who is the Peter W. Stanley Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at Pomona College, is internationally recognized for his work in philosophy of language, meaning and ambiguity, and conversational inference. He is the author of Logic, Meaning, and Conversation: Semantical Underdeterminancy, Implicature, and Their Interface (2004) and Philosophy Without Ambiguity (1989), as well as numerous articles in professional journals. Two prominent theories of language use, Horn and Levinson's developments of Grice's account of conversational implicature and Wilson and Sperber's Relevance Theory, were both influenced by Atlas' research on informativeness and semantical underdeterminacy. He also influenced research on Negative Polarity and Generalized Quantifiers, both central topics of current research in Semantics and Logic.

Speakers include: Barbara Abbott, Michigan State University; Paul Benacerraf, Princeton University; Anne Bezuidenhout, University of South Carolina; Noel Burton-Roberts, The University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Laurence R. Horn, Yale University; Ruth Kempson, King’s College London; George Lakoff, University of California, Berkeley; Jerry Sadock, University of Chicago; Scott Soames, University of Southern California; Deirdre Wilson, University College, London; and Frans Zwarts, University of Groningen.

Atlas, a member of the Pomona College faculty since 1972, is a former chair of the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, which offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of language and the mind. Linguistics focuses on the scientific study of human language, its theoretical, descriptive, social and behavioral bases. Cognitive science is concerned with a unified approach to the human mind and the nature of intelligent behavior: language, meaning, knowledge, thinking, perceiving, remembering and other mental phenomena.

Atlas earned his A.B., summa cum laude, from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He has been a research associate at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycho-Linguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

The conference, which is sponsored by the Pomona College Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, will be held primarily in the Pomona College Smith Campus Center, Room 208 (170 E. Sixth St., Claremont). It will begin on Friday April 1 at 1:15 p.m. and concludes on Saturday, April 2, with a reception at 5:30 on. There is no charge to attend, and all sessions are open to the public. More information, including a complete schedule, is available on the Web at or by calling (909) 621-8947.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.