Robert May Portrait

Position Title
Distinguished Professor Emeritus

2294 Social Science and Humanities


  • B.A.: Swarthmore College, 1973
  • Ph.D.: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1977

Research Focus

Over the course of Robert May’s career, he has worked in two areas: linguistics and philosophy. What has tied together that work has been the goal of understanding the notion of logical form – what is it for a language to represent or express logical structure, how is this related to the truth of sentences of a language, and how does this show in natural language? This has led him to work in a variety of areas on theoretical linguistics on syntax, semantics and their interface, in philosophy of language and philosophy of logic, and in history of early analytic philosophy, in particular on the work of Gottlob Frege. His current research projects include a book on Frege on identity and judgement, work with Christopher Hom on pejorative terms, and a project with Adam Sennet in philosophy of linguistics on the semantic content of linguistic representations.


  • May, R. C. & Hom, C. (forthcoming) Pejoratives as fiction, In D. Sosa (Ed.) Bad Words Oxford University Press.
  • May, R. C., & Heck, R. (forthcoming) Truth in Frege, In M. Glanzberg (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Truth, Oxford University Press.
  • May, R. C., & Wehmeier, K. (forthcoming) The proof of Hume's Principle, In P. Ebert and M. Rossberg (Eds.) A Companion to Frege's Grundgesetze, Oxford University Press.
  • May, R. C., & Heck, R. (2014) The function is unsaturated, In M. Beaney (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy, Oxford University Press
  • May, R. C., & Hom, C. (2013) Moral and semantic innocence, Analytic Philosophy, Vol. 54, 293-313
  • May, R. C., & Antonelli, A. (2012) Quantifiers and determiners, In D. Graff Fara and G. Russell (Eds.) A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, Routledge
  • May, R. C. (2012) What Frege's Theory of Identity is not, Thought, Vol. 1, 41-48
  • May, R. C., & Heck, R. (2011) The composition of thoughts, Nous, Vol. 45, 126-66


Theory of Reference, Frege, Introduction to Symbolic Logic, History of Philosophy, Topics in Philosophy of Language (Chomsky), Philosophy of Language Seminar, History of Philosophy Seminar (Frege)


  • Fulbright Distinguished Professorship, Venice Chair in Philosophy of Language and Theoretical Linguistics, 1994. 

  • Charles P. Nash Prize for Distinguished Service, University of California, Davis, 2013.