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Faculty of Philosophy


Jane Heal studied for her first degree in Cambridge, reading History for two years and then Philosophy (or "Moral Sciences" as it was called in those days) for another two years. She also took her Ph.D. at Cambridge, working on problems on the philosophy of language. After two years post doctoral study in the US (at Princeton and Berkeley) she was appointed to a lectureship at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Having taught there for several years she moved back to Cambridge where she is now a Fellow of St John's College. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1997.



Jane Heal has written extensively on Wittgenstein's ideas in philosophy of language and mind. Her book

  • Fact and Meaning: Quine and Wittgenstein on Philosophy of Language, Blackwell, 1989

compares the views of Quine and Wittgenstein on meaning and truth, asking, in particular, whether non-realism about meaning is tenable.

(She is also the author of the article on Wittgenstein in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

Linked papers written over the last few years have recently been collected in

  • Mind, Reason and Imagination: Selected Essays in Philosophy of Mind and Language (CUP, 2003).

A prominent theme in this collection is the so-called "simulation" or "co-cognition" approach in the philosophy of mind. Her 1986 article

  • "Replication and Functionalism" (reprinted in Folk Psychology edited by M. Davies and T. Stone, Blackwell, 1995)

was (together with papers by Robert Gordon and Alvin Goldman) one of the starting points for the recent revival of interest in this topic. Familiar orthodoxy in philosophy of mind is that grasp and use of psychological concepts is dependent on grasp and use of some theory about how the mind works. The central idea of the simulation approach challenges this, suggesting instead that thinking about other minds involves use of the imagination in such a way as to recreate the other's point of view. (More papers on this theme can be found in the Davies and Stone anthology cited above and also in Mental Simulation (ed M Davies and T Stone, Blackwell 1995) and Theories of Theories of Mind (ed P. Carruthers and P. Smith, Cambridge University Press 1995).)

A further and linked topic discussed in the collection is the logical form of propositional attitude ascriptions. See her

  • "Indexical Predicates and Their Uses" (Mind 1997, pp. 1-22)

for the starting point on this.

And a third topic represented there is first person authority. An indication of the kind of approach pursued can be seen in

  • "Moore's Paradox: a Wittgensteinian Approach" (Mind 1994, pp. 5-24.)

Other papers, not reprinted in the collection, include

  • "Explicit Performative Utterances and Statements" Philosophical Quarterly 1974, 106-21.
  • "Insincerity and Commands" Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1976, 183-201.
  • "On the Phrase 'Theory of Meaning'" (Mind 1978, pp. 359-75)
  • "Common Knowledge" (Philosophical Quarterly 1978, pp. 116-31)
  • "The Disinterested Search for Truth" (Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1987-8, pp. 97-108)
  • "Ethics and the Absolute Conception" Philosophy 1989, 49-65.
  • "Pragmatism and Choosing to Believe" Reading Rorty: Critical Responses to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature ed. A. Malachowski Blackwell 1990, 101-116.
  • Wittgenstein and Dialogue" Philosophical Dialogues: Plato, Hume, Wittgenstein ed. T.J.Smiley Proceedings of the British Academy 85 1995, 63-83.
  • "Radical Interpretation" Companion to Philosophy of Language eds C.Wright and B Hale, Blackwell 1997, 175-196.

There are links here to some ongoing work:


Contact Details

St John's College, Cambridge CB2 1TP, UK