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Durham University

Durham Emergence Project


Language and Ontological Emergence


Project Description

James's research focused on certain properties of language and investigated whether those properties could be fully accounted for by the mechanisms that linguists posit within the human mind. In particular, he investigated the property of truth-evaluability, a property that is had by some but not all properties. By incorporating findings from generative grammar, he argued that these sentence-level properties fulfil the philosophical criterion for being emergent, and thus that linguistics provides an empirically supportable instance of emergence within the human mind.


A special issue of Philosophica in 2017, edited with Alex Carruth and Mark Pexton.

• "Strong Emergence" (with Alex Carruth) Philosophica 2017

• "Language and Ontological Emergence" Philosophica 2017


(2016) ‘The Nature of Words’, Junior Metaphysics Workshop, Texas Christian University Fort Worth, Texas.

(2016) ‘Powerful Qualities and Language’, Trinity College Dublin Philosophy Colloquium.

(2015) ‘Language and Ontological Emergence: Evidence for Ontological Emergence from Linguistics’, Towards a Science of Consciousness, Helsinki.

(2015) ‘What are words?’, Presentation for the Metafizz, Trinity College Dublin Undergraduate Philosophy Society.

(2015 ‘Language and Ontological Emergence’, Durham Emergence Project Seminar, Durham University.