Dr Chris Fox

Prior to 16th January 2021:
‚úć University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK
¬∑ ‚ėŹ +44 (0)1206 87 2576
ūüĒú University of Essex will close the above email account on 21st April 2021 ūüĒö
From 16th January 2021: (subject to change)

‚úć Contact me if you need my UK postal address or ‚ėŹ phone number


I am a former academic, currently working on various music projects (including The Emergency Room, Good Intensions, and others). I play a range of instruments, including electric bass, guitar, piano, fiddle, and percussion. In addition to performing, I also work on arranging, recording, and production.

Academic Work

I was a Reader at the Univer­sity of Essex until my retirement on 16th January 2021.

More details

Previously, I was a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, Univer¬≠sity of London, and at King‚Äôs College London, and also a research fellow at the Comp¬≠uta¬≠tional Linguist¬≠ics Insti¬≠tute in Saar¬≠br√ľcken.

My research is located in the inter­sec­tion of ling­uist­ics, comp­uter science, and phil­oso­phy. My main inter­est is in the formal inter­pre­ta­tion of lang­uage, and found­a­tional issues in seman­tics. My recent work has focused on founda­tional issues in the inter­preta­tion of imper­a­tive and deon­tic utter­ances. I am also expl­or­ing methodo­logical and onto­logical issues in formal seman­tic analy­sis.

My pub­lica­tions include two mono­graphs: The Ontol­ogy of Lang­uage (CSLI, 2000) and Founda­tions of Inten­sional Semant­ics (Blackwell, 2005), along with numer­ous other arti­cles. These works explore axiom­atic and proof-theor­etic accounts of mean­ing. I have co-edited the Hand­book of Natural Lang­uage Pro­cess­ing and Comp­uta­tional Ling­uist­ics (Wiley-Black­well, 2010) and the sec­ond edition of the Hand­book of Contemp­orary Semantic Theory (Wiley-Black­well, 2015).

Selected Publications


The Ont­ology of Lang­uage. Chris Fox. CSLI. 2000. (Distri­buted by Chicago Univer­sity Press.)

Founda­tions of Int­ens­ion­al Seman­tics. Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin. Black­well. 2005.

Hand­book of Nat­ural Lang­uage Pro­cess­ing and Comp­u­ta­tional Ling­uist­ics. Alex Clark, Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin (eds). Wiley-Black­well. 2010.

Hand­book of Cont­emp­orary Sem­an­tic Theory (second edi­tion). Shalom Lappin and Chris Fox (eds). Wiley-Black­well. 2015.

Selected Articles and Conference Papers

(Note: This is a summary of selected publications. Details of most of my acad­emic publ­ica­tions are avail­able on a separate search­able pub­lica­tions page, which includes ab­stracts, BibTEX entries, and links to papers.)

  1. ‚Äú‚ÄėOught Implies Can‚Äô and the Law‚ÄĚ. Chris Fox and Guglielmo Feis. Inquiry. Volume 61. Number 4. 2018. pp370‚Äď393.
  2. ‚ÄúImpera¬≠tives‚ÄĚ. Chris Fox. Hand¬≠book of Contemp¬≠or¬≠ary Seman¬≠tic Theory (2nd ed). Wiley-Black¬≠well. 2015.
  3. ‚ÄúThe Mean¬≠ing of Formal Semantics‚ÄĚ. In Seman¬≠tics and Beyond. Philoso¬≠phical and Linguis¬≠tic Invest¬≠iga¬≠tions. De Gruyter. 2014. pp85‚Äď108.
  4. ‚ÄúType-Theore¬≠tic Logic with an Opera¬≠tional Account of Intension¬≠ality‚ÄĚ. Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin. Synthese. January 2014. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-013-0390-1.
  5. ‚ÄúImpera¬≠tives: a Judge¬≠men¬≠tal Analysis‚ÄĚ. Studia Logica. Volume 100. Issue 4. 2012. pp879‚Äď905. DOI: 10.1007/s11225-012-9424-9
  6. ‚ÄúIn Defense of Axiom¬≠atic Seman¬≠tics‚ÄĚ. Chris Fox and Raymond Turner. In Philo¬≠sophical and Formal Approaches to Linguis¬≠tic Analy¬≠sis. Ontos Verlag. 2012. pp145‚Äď160.
  7. ‚ÄúObliga¬≠tions and Permis¬≠sions‚ÄĚ. Language and Linguis¬≠tics Compass. Volume 6. Issue 9. 2012. Wiley-Black¬≠well. pp593‚Äď610. DOI: 10.1002/lnc3.352
  8. ‚ÄúExpres¬≠sive¬≠ness and Complexity in Under¬≠specif¬≠ied Seman¬≠tics‚ÄĚ. Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin. Linguistic Analy¬≠sis. Volume 36. Number 1‚Äď4. pp385‚Äď417. 2010. Fest¬≠schrift for Jacob Lambek.
  9. ‚ÄúThe Good Samaritan and the Hygienic Cook‚ÄĚ. In Philosophy of Language and Linguistics, Volume I: The formal turn. Ontos Verlag. 2010. pp103‚Äď118.
  10. ‚ÄúComputa¬≠tional Semantics‚ÄĚ. In Handbook of Natural Language Process¬≠ing and Computa¬≠tional Linguis¬≠tics. Edited by Alex Clark, Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin. Wiley-Black¬≠well. 2010.
  11. ‚ÄúObliga¬≠tions, Permis¬≠sions and Trans¬≠gres¬≠sions: an altern¬≠at¬≠ive approach to deontic reason¬≠ing‚ÄĚ. Pro¬≠ceed¬≠ings of the Tenth Sympo¬≠s¬≠ium on Logic and Lang¬≠uage. 2009. pp81‚Äď88.
  12. ‚ÄúUnder¬≠speci¬≠fied Inter¬≠preta¬≠tions in a Curry-Typed Repre¬≠senta¬≠tion Language‚ÄĚ. Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin. Journal of Logic and Comp¬≠uta¬≠tion 15(2). 2005. pp131‚Äď143.
  13. ‚ÄúAn Expres¬≠sive First-Order Logic with Flex¬≠ible Typ¬≠ing for Natural Language Seman¬≠tics‚ÄĚ. Chris Fox and Shalom Lappin. Logic Journal of the Inter¬≠est Group in Pure and Applied Logics 12. 2004. pp135‚Äď168.
  14. ‚ÄúPlurals and Mass Terms in Property Theory‚ÄĚ. In Plural¬≠ity and Quant¬≠ifica¬≠tion. Edited by F. Hamm and E. Hinrichs. Kluwer. 1998. pp113‚Äď175.
  15. ‚ÄúExist¬≠ence Pre¬≠sup¬≠posi¬≠tions and Categ¬≠ory Mistakes‚ÄĚ. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 42. 1994. pp325‚Äď339.
  16. ‚ÄúIndivid¬≠uals and Their Guises: a Property-theoretic Analy¬≠sis‚ÄĚ. Pro¬≠ceed¬≠ings of the Ninth Amster¬≠dam Col¬≠loquium II. 1993. pp301‚Äď312.

Research Interests

My primary research interests lie in the area of formal seman­tics and the philo­sophy of lang­uage. I also have inter­ests in program analysis, parti­cu­larly in human compre­hension of computer programs, and process model­ling. Much of my work in these last two areas exploits ideas and tech­niques from language analy­sis. I also have an interest in the uses and abuses of tech­nology in the context of human and humani­tarian rights.

Formal Semantics & the Philosophy of Language

This is my primary research interest. My work on formal seman¬≠tics is focused on ‚Äúnon-Kripkean‚ÄĚ proof-theoretic/‚Äčaxiomatic analy¬≠sis. Rather than view formal seman¬≠tics as the activity of reduc¬≠ing pheno¬≠mena to set-theoretic, possible-worlds models, the aim is to formalise the basic onto¬≠logical notions and their struct¬≠ural behav¬≠iours. This is motiv¬≠ated by a methodo¬≠logical view that formalism should reflect our intui¬≠tions about onto¬≠logical categories. Set theory is demon¬≠strably insensi¬≠tive to such notions ‚ĒÄ requir¬≠ing an accompany¬≠ing narra¬≠tive to provide the intended inter¬≠preta¬≠tion ‚ĒÄ and is in that sense is not faith¬≠ful to the terms in which we describe our seman¬≠tic theories (follow¬≠ing Feferman and Benacerraf).

Recently I have been work¬≠ing on deontic reason¬≠ing ‚ĒÄ reason¬≠ing with obliga¬≠tions and permis¬≠sions ‚ĒÄ and on impera¬≠tives and ques¬≠tions. Currently I am explor¬≠ing logical issues relat¬≠ing to mereo¬≠logical univers¬≠al¬≠ism and nihilism. This is concerned with the ques¬≠tions of whether we compose natural objects out of arbitrary composi¬≠tions of other objects (univers¬≠al¬≠ism), whether there is anyth¬≠ing in the world that governs what objects we take there to be (which nihil¬≠ism rejects), and whether, and in what way, logical formal¬≠isa¬≠tion can help us to reflect on these issues (as in Lewis‚Äô and Sider‚Äôs work on uni¬≠vers¬≠al¬≠ism). The focus of the work is trying to see what connex¬≠ions there may be, if any, between such meta¬≠physic¬≠al questions and the prag¬≠matic analy¬≠sis of lang¬≠uage. This work is revisit¬≠ing some issues and argu¬≠ments that were discus¬≠sed in my thesis on Plurals and Mass Terms in Property Theory, and my mono¬≠graph on The Ontology of Language.

Topics on which I have made contribu­tions

  • Fine-grained intension¬≠ality
  • Impera¬≠tives
  • Deontic reason¬≠ing
  • Ques¬≠tions and answers
  • Methodo¬≠logical issues
  • Under¬≠specifica¬≠tion
  • Anaphora and ellipsis
  • Property Theory
  • Type theory, includ¬≠ing poly¬≠morphic and dependent types
  • Weak first-order theories
  • Plurals and mass terms

I am a member of the editorial board for Seman­tics and Prag­matics, a member of the EPSRC College, and former member of the editorial board for Linguis­tics and Philo­sophy. I am a found­ing member of the inter­disciplin­ary Language and Computa­tion Group at Essex (LAC) which holds regular workshops. (Details are avail­able from the Language and Computa­tion Wiki.) Previously, I also helped establish and run the CSEE Logic Seminar Series. (Details of the logic talks from this series may still be found on the Logic Seminar Series web­site.)

Some of this work has been support­ed at various times by the Royal Society, EPSRC/SERC and ESRC.

Human Rights and Informa­tion Technology

I am a member of the Senior Manage­ment Team, and technical workstream director on the ESRC-funded centre on Human Rights, Big Data and Technology project.

We are explor­ing: (i) the use of social media by exist­ing human rights groups and NGOs; (ii) problems in the statistical analysis of social media for identify­ing human right abuses; techniques for systematic analysis of (iii) textual social media and (iv) image data, to identify or track potential human rights abuses, and improve humanitarian responses; and (v) ethical issues associated with big data and algorithmic analysis.

The project is based in the Human Rights Centre at Essex (Principal Investigator: Lorna McGregor; Co-Lead: Maurice Sunkin).

This work is funded by the ESRC.

Process Modell­ing & Program Analysis

I have an interest in the type-theoretic analysis of soft¬≠ware engin¬≠eer¬≠ing languages and nota¬≠tions and in formal models of processes. Previously I have also worked on weak conserva¬≠tive approaches to reason¬≠ing with computer programs: in general, many ‚Äúinterest¬≠ing‚ÄĚ ques¬≠tions about computer programs are unanswer¬≠able due to various versions of the halt¬≠ing problem; weak, conserva¬≠tive approaches attempt to approxi¬≠mate such problems in order to produce ‚Äúgood enough‚ÄĚ answers to common ques¬≠tions.

I produced the first fully-auto¬≠matic condi¬≠tioned program slicer: program slic¬≠ing is intended to elimin¬≠ate program state¬≠ments that are not required for the sub¬≠computa¬≠tion of interest; condi¬≠tioned program slic¬≠ing addi¬≠tionally elimin¬≠ates code that cannot be executed in a given context ‚ĒÄ it requires us to reason with the condi¬≠tions under which dif¬≠fer¬≠ent program paths can be exec¬≠uted.

Areas in which I have made contr­ibu­tions include: (i) Trans­lat­ing between formal process repre­senta­tion lang­uages and business models; (ii) Weak con­serva-tive reason­ing with process models; (iii) Trans­lat­ing control­led descrip­tions of proces­ses into formal models; (iv) Distri­buted work­flow manage­ment; (v) Variable depend­ence analy­sis; (vi) Program trans­forma­tion to aid test­ing; (vii) Condi­tioned program slic­ing; (viii) Slic­ing and condi­tion­ing of state-charts. (The last of these is inter­est­ing in that gener­ally state-chart proces­ses do not terminate; thought has to be given to using general­ised notions of reacha­bil­ity in place of term­ina­tion.)

Some of the work on process model­l­ing has been funded by the EU. Some of the research on program analysis has been supported by Daimler­Chrysler and the EPSRC.

Teaching & Research Supervision

I have extens­ive experi­ence of teach­ing at under­grad­uate and post­graduate level in areas related to lang­uage, logic, and comp­uter science, and of super­vis­ing post­grad­uate research students.


Topics I have taught include:

  • natural language semant¬≠ics;
  • logic;
  • formal methods;
  • arti¬≠ficial intel¬≠ligence;
  • discrete mathe¬≠matics;
  • program seman¬≠tics;
  • algor¬≠ithms; data-structures;
  • automata theory;
  • embed¬≠ded systems;
  • lang¬≠uages and compil¬≠ers;
  • the rela¬≠tional model; and
  • technical stage craft,

as well as super­vis­ing group projects, indi­vidual disser­ta­tions, and post­grad­uate research students.

Supervision and Research Degrees

Assuming suitable arrangements can be made, I am happy to [co]super­vise PhD and MPhil research in natural lang­uage seman­tics, comp­uta­tional ling­uist­ics, program analy­sis (applied and theore­tical) and relat­ed areas. Poss­ible topics include:

  • Combin¬≠ing type-logical grammar with intensional seman¬≠tics
  • Model¬≠l¬≠ing ques¬≠tions and answers without poss¬≠ible worlds
  • Imple¬≠ment¬≠ing a type-theor¬≠etic analy¬≠sis of anaph¬≠ora and ellip¬≠sis
  • Type-theor¬≠etic analy¬≠sis of impera¬≠tive prog¬≠ramm¬≠ing lang¬≠uages
  • Type-theor¬≠etic analy¬≠sis of architec¬≠tural lang¬≠uages


Recent roles

  • Member of the Senior Management Team for the ESRC-funded Human Rights and Big Data Technology project (HRBDT).
  • Member of the editorial board of Semantics and Pragmatics.

Previous roles

  • President of Essex UCU
  • Head of the Human Language Technology group
  • Member of the Research Advisory Group
  • Postgraduate Director
  • Member of the editorial board of Linguistics and Philosophy.
  • Chair of Postgraduate Curriculum Development
  • Chair of Linguistics‚Äô Postgraduate Examination Board
  • ‚Ķ and many more!

Author: Dr Chris Fox · Round Peg

Created: 2021-02-28 Sun 20:19