Nikhil Mahant

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Intellectual Themes Initiative on ‘Belief’ at the Central European University in Vienna. I am interested in the philosophy of language, mind, and metaphysics. 

I defended my PhD thesis—titled ‘names are words’—in December 2022. My thesis 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 names, I like to think about what (kind of things) words are and about whether AI generated outputs — say, essays generated by a LLM — are meaningful bits of language or mere arrangements of words that have a high probability of occurring together in a given context.