Nikhil Mahant

I am interested in the philosophy of language, mind, and artificial intelligence. I will begin my Marie Curie project titled 'Do AI generated outputs have content?' at Uppsala University, Sweden, in August this year. Earlier, I have worked as a postdoc at the Central European University (CEU), Vienna, which is where I completed my PhD.

My PhD thesis — titled ‘names are words’ — argues that names are a special kind of word, much like common nouns, but also a bit different. Like a common noun, the same name can be used to talk about different individuals. There are many nikhils just there are many cats. But then, unlike common nouns, the exact pronunciation (or spelling) of a name is an important aspect of their meaning (although I don’t mind being referred to as ‘Nihil’, that’s not my name.) 

Apart from the philosophy of names, I work on the metaphysics of words (broadly, the question, 'what are words?'), philosophical issues concerning explainable AI, and the question of whether AI systems can do the same things with language that humans can (e.g., saying true or false things about the world, or performing speech acts like declaring, promising, etc.) More broadly, I am interested in cross-cultural philosophy, the nature of religious faith, and the status and significance of philosophy in democracies.

Recent/Upcoming Talks/Events: