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Department of Philosophy


Professor Wolfram Hinzen, MA, PhD

Professor in the Department of Philosophy

Contact Professor Wolfram Hinzen (email at


MA 1993: University of Freiburg i. Br.

MA 1994: University of London (King's College). 

PhD 1996: University of Bern (intuitionistic logic and semantic anti-realism) 

Postdocs: University of Stuttgart (with Prof. Hans Kamp); Columbia University (Prof. I. Levi), New York University (Prof. K. Fine).

Assistant Professor (from 1999): University of Regensburg ('Habilitation', 2003),

Senior Lecturer (from 2003): University of Amsterdam (teaching in philosophy, cognitive science, and linguistics).

Full professor: University of Durham, since 2006.

Research Projects, Grants and Awards

  • The Origin of Truth: 2007-2011, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Collaborators: Dr. Boban Arsenijevic and Dora Achourioti. The project aims to unravel the origins and nature of propositional competence in humans and to assess their language dependence, with consequences for the epistemology and metaphysics of truth.
  • Un-Cartesian Linguistics: 2009-2012. AHRC-DFG project based on a cooperation with a German group headed by Professor E. Leiss in Munich. This project targets a reformulation of the theory of Universal Grammar on the basis of a new account of the syntax-semantics interface inspired by late medieval Modistic grammars. Collaborators: Dr. Michelle Sheehan and Uli Reichard.
  • Language and Mental Health (AHRC, AH/L004070/1, £918,980). Based on theoretical work in the previous project, this new project targets the linguistic dimensions of thought disorder in schizophrenia as compared with aphasia. It is spread over three sites (Durham, Newcastle, London).

Research Interests

I am interested in what difference grammar makes to the organization of the human mind. Grammar is a species property and essentially unique in the animal world. I am exploring the extent to which this implicates a fundamental change in the organization of human thought. My work thus focusses on the internal organization of the language faculty, the connection between meaning and form, and the explanation of semantics. 

Supervisions (PhD level)

I am willing to supervise and collaborate on theses on any topic in the Mind&Language area. I currently supervise theses on minimal conceptions of semantics, on identity in grammar, on language in phenomenology, on judgement, on triangulation in the later Davidson, on ontology in language and metaphysics, and on meaningful cyclicity in grammar. I also have some interests in the philosophy of biology (see below), historical interests in Ancient Indian philosophy of Language, and in Kant and Hegel. Current potential projects that might interest you are:

  • Contemporary challenges to the Neo-Darwinian concept of speciation.
  • Language and mental health
  • How essential is communication to language?
  • The grammar and semantics of modification
  • Is the meaning of a whole composed of the meanings of its parts in language?
  • Scope and limits of a deflationary conception of truth

Undergraduate Teaching

Current PhD students

David Kirkby

Ulrich Reichard

Tom Hughes

Pallavi Worah

James Miller

Andrew Woodard

Alex Malt

Research Groups

  • Mind, Language and Metaphysics


Books: authored

Books: edited

  • Werning, M., Hinzen, W. & Machery, E. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hinzen, W. (2006). Prospects for Dualism: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Erkenntnis vol. 65:1.
  • Hinzen, W. & Rott, H. (2002). Belief and Meaning - Essays at the Interface. Frankfurt: Hansel-Hohenhausen (German Library of Sciences).

Books: sections

  • Hinzen, W. (2012). Minimalism. In Handbook of Philosophy of Linguistics. Kempson, R., Fernando, T. & Asher, N. Elsevier. 93-141.
  • Hinzen, W. (2012). Naturalism pluralism about truth. In Truth and pluralism. Wright, C. & Pedersen, N. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hinzen, W (2012). Recursion and Truth. In Recursion. Speas, P & Roeper, T Oxford University Press.
  • Hinzen, W. (2012). Syntax in the atom. In Handbook of Compositionality. Werning, W M., Hinzen, W. & Machery, E. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 351-370.
  • Hinzen, W. (2011). Emergence of a systemic semantics through minimal and underspecified codes. In Biolinguistic Explorations. di Sciullo, A.M. & Boeckx, C. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 417-439.
  • Hinzen, W. (2011). Language and thought. In The Oxford Handbook of Minimalism. Boeckx, C. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 499-522.
  • Hinzen, W. (2009). Hierarchy, Merge, and Truth. In Of minds and language: A Dialogue with Noam Chomsky in the Basque Country. Piattelli-Palmarini, M., Uriagereka, J. & Salaburu, P. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 123-141.
  • Hinzen, W. (2008). Context and Logical Form. In Perspectives on Context. Bouquet, P. & Serafini, L. Stanford: CSLI Publications. 141-168.
  • Hinzen, W. (2008). The Successor Function + LEX = Human Language?. In InterPhases: Phase-Theoretic Investigations of Linguistic Interfaces. Grohmann, K. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 25-47.
  • Hinzen, W. (2007). Explaining Reference. In Referenz und Realitaet. Rami, A. & Schoenrich, G. Paderborn: Mentis. 79-98.
  • Hinzen, W. (2007). Truth, assertion, and the sentence. In Truth and speech acts. Greimann, D. & Siegwart, G. Routledge. 130-156.
  • Hinzen, W. (2006). Externalist and Internalist Aspects of the Human Naming Ability. In Prague Papers on Externalism. Marvan, T. Cambridge Scholars Press.
  • Hinzen, W. (2006). The Mind we do not Change. In Knowledge and Inquiry. Essays on the Pragmatism of Isaac Levi. Olsson, E. Cambridge University Press.
  • Hinzen, W. (2005). Der Natuerliche Mensch. In Philosophische Anthropologie und Lebenskunst, Munchen. Westermann, H. & Loehrer, G. Fink. 53-80.
  • Hinzen, W. (2004). Der Gegenwaertige Stand der Gebrauchstheorie der Bedeutung [The Current Status of the Use of Theory Meaning]. In Pragmatisch Denken. Olson, E & Fuhrmann, A. Ontos Verlag. 59-88.
  • Hinzen, W. (2003). Real Dynamics. In The Dynamic Turn. Current Research in the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface. Peregrin, J. Elsevier. 12.
  • Hinzen, W. (2003). Turing's Test and the Metaphysics of Body and Mind: A Note on Lack of Implications. In Possibility and Reality - Metaphysics and Logic. Rott, H. & Horak, V. Frankfurt/London: Ontos-Verlag.
  • Hinzen, W. (2002). Meaning Without Belief. In Belief and Meaning - Essays at the Interface. Rott, H. & Hinzen, W. Frankfurt: 13-42.

Journal papers: academic

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Linguistics & Language: Human language, language evolution, philosophy of language, language and mind