photo of Mark McCullagh

Mark McCullagh

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

I am a philosopher at the University of Guelph, in the very pleasant city of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. (It’s pronounced “gwelf.”) My academic training was at the University of Toronto and the University of Pittsburgh where I completed my PhD under the direction of Robert Brandom and John McDowell.


I encourage students in my courses to consult my resources for students page.

Fall 2024

Winter 2025


In addition to normal departmental service responsibilities I am the Editorial Board Coordinator of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy. In this capacity I do an initial review of each of the 400 or so submissions we receive each year (of which we publish about 10%), advise the 16-member board of Executive Editors who are responsible for the rest of their handling, and manage the journal’s operations.


I work in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. I’m interested in some non-standard kinds of uses of words and concepts, because understanding these illuminates what is going on in more standard uses. So I’m interested in scare-quoting, a device that challenges some received claims about the nature of assertion, e.g. that one should believe what one asserts. And I’m interested in how we use concepts to specify others’ thoughts (as in using the concept LIVELY to think that Susan thinks that New Orleans is lively as opposed to using it to think about New Orleans directly). Here too there are differences that cast light on the nature of concept possession. There is a sort of slack in using a concept in a thought-specifying way. The reason for this is that in using a concept, while one must satisfy its possession conditions, one needn’t fully know what they are. One upshot of this is that one can coherently attribute thoughts one cannot have: either because one doesn’t fully have the concepts they involve, or because they are not thoughts that anyone can have—they are incoherent or confused would-be thoughts. This problematizes philosophers’ habit of appealing to hypothetical scenarios to support claims they make about concepts.

Recent publications:

Interpretative modesty. Journal of Philosophy 120 (2023): 42–59.
Distributed utterances. In The Architecture of Context and Context-sensitivity, edited by Tadeusz Ciecierski and Paweł Grabarczy, 113–24. Dordrecht: Springer, 2020.
Kinds of monsters and kinds of compositionality. Analysis 78 (2018): 657–66.
Russellianism unencumbered. Philosophical Studies 174 (2017): 2819–43.
Scare-quoting and incorporation. In The Semantics and Pragmatics of Quotation, edited by Paul Saka and Michael Johnson, 3–34. Dordrecht: Springer, 2017.

Full list of publications, with abstracts



Mail: Dept of Philosophy, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON Canada N1G 2W1

Offfice: 332 MacKinnon Building. (How to find the Department of Philosophy)

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