Scott Soames

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
Scott Soames
Email Office STO 223 Office Phone (213) 740-0798

Research & Practice Areas

Philosophy of Language, History of Analytic Philosophy


  • Ph.D. , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1/1976
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Scott Soames specializes in the philosophy of language, the history of analytic philosophy, and the phillosophy of law. He has published extensively on truth, reference, meaning, the relationship between semantics and pragmatics, and the nature of syntactic and semantic theories of natural languages. Specific topics of his scholarly interest include names, natural kind terms, descriptions, pronominal anaphora, propositions and propositional attitudes, vagueness, presupposition, partially defined predicates, the so-called rule following paradox, the indeterminacy of translation, and the use of the science and philosophy of language to illuminate the content of legal texts.

  • Book

    • Soames, S. (1998). More Revision About Reference. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998; Appears in The New Theory of Reference, edited by P.W. Humphreys and J.H. Fetzer.
    • Soames, S. (1998). Facts, Truth Conditions, and the Skeptical Solution to the Rule-Following Paradox. (Vol. 12) Philosophical Perspectives, Language, Mind, and Ontology.

    Book Chapters

    • Soames, S. (2023). Is There a Social Science of Morality. 2023 pp. 159-182. Los Angeles, CA: Pepperdine University Press.
    • Soames, S. (2022). Viennese Lessons: Wittgenstein, Carnap, and Schlick. pp. 219-234. Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook, 26, The Social-Ethical Dimension of Knowledge: The Mission of Logical Empiricism. Christian Dambock and Adam T. Tuboli, Springer.
    • Soames, S. (2021). Philosophy of Language in the 21st Century. Cambridge Handbook of Philosophy and Language.
    • Soames, S. (2020). The Fruits of Causal Theory of Reference. pp. 82-93. The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference.
    • Soames, S. (2019). Analytic Philosophy of Language: From First Philosophy to the Foundations of the Science of Language. History of Philosophy: 1945-2010, Becker and Thomson.
    • Soames, S. (2019). Antonin Scalia’s Philosophy of Legal Interpretation. Justice Scalia: Rhetoric and the Rule of Law, Brian Slocum.
    • Soames, S. (2019). Rejecting Excluded Middle. pp. 141-159. Cambridge: The Sorites Paradox, Oms and Zardini.
    • Soames, S. (2018). Cognitive Propositions in Realist Linguistics. pp. 235-254. Christina Behme and Martin Neef, Essays on Linguistic Realism, (John Benjamines: NL).
    • Soames, S. (2018). Kripke on Mind-Body Identity. Appears in the Bloomsbury Companion to the Philosophy of Consciousness.
    • Soames, S. (2017). Deferentialism, Living Originalism, and the Constitution, and Response to Rosen. Appears in Inference, Intention and ‘Ordinary Meaning’: What jurists can learn about legal interpretation from linguistics and philosophy, University of Chicago Press.
    • Soames, S. (2017). The Changing Role of Language in Analytic Philosophy. Appears in Analytic Philosophy: An Interpretive History, published by Routledge.
    • Soames, S. (2016). Propositions, the Tractatus, and “The Single Great Problem of Philosophy”. 143 (Vol. 48) pp. 3-19. Critica.
    • Soames, S. (2015). The Place of David Lewis in Analytic Philosophy. A Companion to David Lewis, Loewer, Barry and Jonathan Schaeffer,.
    • Soames, S. (2013). Cognitive Propositions. (Vol. 27) pp. 1-23. Philosophical Perspectives: Philosophy of Language.
    • Soames, S. (2013). Quines’s Position in the the History of Analytic Philosophy. pp. 432-464. A Companion to W.V.O.Quine, Harman, Gilbert and Ernie Lepre.
    • Soames, S. (2012). Two Versions of Millianism. pp. 83-118. Reference and Referring, Topics in Philosophy, Vol 10, Campbell, Joseph, Michael O’Rourke and Harry Silverstein.
    • Soames, S. (2012). Propositions. pp. 209-220. Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language.
    • Soames, S. (2012). Vagueness and the Law. The Routledge to the Philosophy of Law.
    • Soames, S. (2011). What Vagueness and Inconsistency Tell Us About Interpretation. Philosophical Foundations of Language in the Law pp. 31-57. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Soames, S. (2011). Kripke on Epistemic and Metaphysical Possibility: Two Routes to the Necessary A Posteriori. Saul Kripke pp. 78-99. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Soames, S. (2010). The Possibility of Partial Definition (Reprinted). Cuts and Clouds: Vagueness, its Nature and its Log pp. 46-62. Oxford University Press.
    • Soames, S. (2008). “Interpreting Legal Texts: What is, and what is not, special about the law” (to appear in Philosophical Essays, Vol. 1).
    • Soames, S. (2008). “Analytic Philosophy in America” (in the Handbook of American Philosophy). pp. pp. 449-481. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Soames, S. (2007). Ambitious Two-Dimensionalism. pp. p. 690-718. On Sense and Direct Reference: A Reader in the Philosophy of Language.
    • Soames, S. (2006). Philosophical Implications of the Kripkean Necessary Aposteriori. (Vol. 16) Philosophical Issues.
    • Soames, S. (2006). Understanding Assertion. pp. 222-250. Content and Modality: Themes from the Philosophy of Robert Stalnaker, Oxford University Press.
    • Soames, S. (2004). Naming and Asserting. pp. 356-382. Semantics vs. Pragmatics, Oxford University Press.
    • Soames, S. (2004). Knowledge of Manifest Natural Kinds. (Vol. 6) pp. 159-181. Facta Philosophica.
    • Soames, S. (2003). Understanding Deflationism. (Vol. 17) Philosophical Perspectives.
    • Soames, S. (2003). Higher Order Vagueness. Liars and Heaps: New Essays on Paradox, Oxford University Press.
    • Soames, S. (1987). Substitutivity. pp. 99-132. On Being and Saying: Essays for Richard Cartwright.

    Book Review

    • Soames, S. (2020). Review of Frege’s Detour, by John Perry. Notre Dame Philosophical Review of Books.

    Encyclopedia Article

    • Soames, S. (2006). Philosophical Analysis. p. 144-157. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition.

    Journal Article

    • Soames, S. (2022). Cognitive Propositions, Truth Functions, and the Tractatus. Inquiry.
    • Soames, S. (2022). Anti-Descriptivism 2.0. Symposium in Philosophical Studies on the book Roads to Reference.
    • Soames, S. (2021). Plural Agents, Private Intentions, and Legal Interpretation. Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues. Vol. 23, pp. 149-154.
    • Soames, S. (2020). To What Should Originalists be Faithful. SSRN Research Papers.
    • Soames, S. (2020). Originalism and Legitimacy. The Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy.
    • Soames, S. (2020). What We Know about Numbers and Propositions and How We Know It. Organon F — International Journal of Analytic Philosophy.
    • Soames, S. (2016). Propositions as Cognitive Acts. Synthese, Springer.
    • Soames, S. (2014). Epistemic Intensions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. pp. 986-994.
    • Soames, S. (2013). Deferentialism: A Post-Originalist Theory of Legal Interpretation. Fordham Law Review. Vol. 82 (2), pp. 597-617.
    • Soames, S. (2011). Toward a Theory of Legal Interpretation. NYU Journal of Law and Liberty. Vol. 6, pp. 231-259.
    • Soames, S. (2010). What are Natural Kinds?. Philosophical Topics. Vol. 35 (1-2), pp. 329-342.
    • Soames, S. (2010). Coordination Problems. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Vol. 81, pp. 464-474.
    • Soames, S. (2010). True At. Analysis. Vol. 71 (1), pp. 124-133.
    • Soames, S. (2008). “Drawing the Line Between Meaning and Implicature — and Relating Both to Assertion.”. NOUS. Vol. 42 (3), pp. 529-554.
    • Soames, S. (2008). “Truth and Meaning — in Perspective”. MIDWEST STUDIES IN PHILOSOPHY. Vol. XXXII, pp. 1-19.
    • Soames, S. (2008). “Truthmakers”. PHILOSOPHICAL BOOKS. Vol. 49 (4), pp. 317-327.
    • Soames, S. (2008). Why Propositions Can’t be Sets of Truth-Supporting Circumstances. The Journal of Philosophical Logic. Vol. 37, pp. 267-276.
    • Soames, S. (2007). “The Quine-Carnap Debate on Analyticity and Ontology”. SOOCHOW JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES. (16), pp. 17-32.
    • Soames, S. (2007). “Actually”. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ARISTOTELIAN SOCIETY. Vol. Supp. LXXXI, pp. 251-277.
    • Soames, S. (2007). “Descriptive Names vs. Descriptive Anaphora”. PHILOSOPHY AND PHENOMENOLOGICAL RESEARCH. Vol. LXXII (3), pp. 665-673.
    • Soames, S. (2005). Reference and Descreption, Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. No Journal Defined. Vol. 397-425
    • Soames, S. (2005). Why Incomplete Definite Descriptions do not Defeat Russell’s Theory of Descriptions, Teorema, Vol. 3. No Journal Defined. pp. p. 7-30.
    • Soames, S. (1998). Skepticism about Meaning: Indeterminacy, Normativity, and the Rule Following Paradox. Canadian Journal of Philosophy. Vol. 23
    • Soames, S. (1995). Revisionism About Reference: A Reply to Smith. Synthese, Springer; Eastern Division Meetings of the APA Boston.


    • Soames, S. (2009). “The Possibility of Partial Definition”. Oxford University Press, 2009; Appearing in Cuts and Clouds: Essays on the Nature of Vagueness, edited by Richard Dietz and Sebastiano Morouzzi.
    • Online Video Interview, Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies: May 27, 2010, 2009-2010
    • Online Video, NYU Journal of Law and Liberty Spring 2011 Symposium: Generalist Panel, 2010-2011
    • Online Video, Discussion with Dean of the School of Philosophy, and Professors of the Department of Foreign Philosophy, at Moscow State University, 2010-2011
    • Online Video Interview, Interview on The Browser: Soames on the Philosophy of Language, 2010-2011
    • Online Video Interview, Jurisprudence Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Really Like (Lots), University of Miami School of Law”when-is-using-a-firearm-not-really”-an-eminent-philosopher-of-language-helps-us-decide/, 2010-2011
  • Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • International Advisory Board Member, Analytica, 2006 –
    • Editorial Advisory Board Member, Philosophical Perspectives, 2006 –
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