Research

My work is a combination of philosophy of language, ethics, and feminist philosophy. I also like to draw from psychology, linguistics, sociology, and law. My overarching interest lies in the relationship between communication and social norms, values, and hierarchies. I see language as an immensely powerful tool. It’s not just a means of sharing information; it also shapes what we believe, how we feel, how we act, and even what there is in the world.

I’m currently working on the following four (sometimes overlapping) topics:

  1. Intimacy. I am fascinated by what makes an interaction between people intimate. Much of the philosophical and psychological literature on intimacy has focused on intimate relationships, but I think we can only understand these if we first understand intimate interactions. I first got into this topic by writing about flirting.
  2. Online communication. I don’t think we’ve yet come to terms with quite how radically the internet has changed how we communicate. I’ve already written about likes, and I am currently thinking about emoji, and a phenomenon known as ‘context collapse’.
  3. The role of the hearer in communication. I think hearers have been neglected in philosophy of language, and I am trying to rectify that. I have written a range of papers exploring what powers we have as hearers, and how our responses to others’ speech can contribute the meaning of that speech.
  4. The relationship between speech and normative powers. I think there are many under explored and interesting connections between speech act theory and the literature in moral philosophy on normative powers.

I have a PhD in philosophy from Cambridge, and undergraduate and master’s degrees in philosophy from Oxford. My PhD project,  ‘Speech, Sex, and Social Norms’, funded by the Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership and supervised by Rae Langton and Clare Chambers, explored different ways norms of gender and sexuality are enforced through speech.

I run the Cambridge Meaning Group, which discusses papers in philosophy of language and linguistics. I also run, with Cathy Mason, the Cambridge Intimacy and Relationships Reading Group, which discusses topics like friendship, love, sex, and care. From Autumn 2022 I’ll be co-convening a CRASSH Research Network, Illuminating Friendship.