Pronouns and Gender

In Ernest Lepore & Luvell Anderson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Applied Philosophy of Language. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 265–292 (2023)
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This chapter introduces readers to the empirical questions at issue in debates over gendered pronouns and assesses the plausibility of various possible answers to these questions. It has two parts. The first is a general introduction to the linguistics and psychology of grammatical gender. The second focuses on the meanings of gendered pronouns in English. It begins with a discussion of some methodological limitations of empirical approaches to the topic and the normative implications of those limitations. It then argues against three simple theories of the semantics of gendered pronouns in English and proposes an alternative that fares better: the Gender-First View. Finally, it discusses the singular use of 'they' and its connection to nonbinary gender identities.

Author Profiles

Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini
Rutgers University - Newark
Michael Glanzberg
Rutgers - New Brunswick


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