Biographical Sketch & CV

Francis Jeffry Pelletier
Dept's of Philosophy, Linguistics
Simon Fraser University





Research Links


Online CVs

My CV can be gotten in two slightly different formats: this one has the publications grouped by area (e.g., history of philosophy vs. language vs. logic and the like). [Alas, I stopped maintaining this style of CV in 2008. For anything newer, check the other style]   And this one has them grouped by publication venue (e.g., books, journal articles, conference proceedings, etc).  Both of these files are pdf.  If you do not have a pdf reader, it can be gotten for free from here.


Biographical sketch

My father was in the (US) air force.  This had the effect of moving many times during my school years.  I once counted that I attended 21 different schools between kindergarten and when I graduated from high school.  I usually say that I am from Lincoln, Nebraska, because that was where I graduated from high school (Lincoln SouthEast High School).  I tried to be athletic with not too much success.  I was on the swimming team (which won the state championship each of the three years I was on it, but alas, no thanks to me), and I was on the tennis team.  I have gone to a couple of high school reunions over the years.  The last time was in 2006.  It is a little interesting that John Perry (Philosophy, Stanford) was also a graduate of Lincoln SouthEast a few years before me.  (He comes up again below).


I spent a year and a half at the Colorado School of Mines, trying to be an Engineer.  But I found that I enjoyed my time in Boulder (University of Colorado, about 25 miles up the road) better; and I was going there both to attend literature classes and to party much more than I was working at the School of Mines.  I transferred to the University of Nebraska, and took a very wide range of courses. When it came time to graduate I discovered that I was nearest to an Education degree in Mathematics than to anything else, and so I completed that degree.  I then taught high school math for a semester, which convinced me that I wanted nothing to do with teaching a subject that unwilling students were forced to take. 


I wanted to go back to the comfy confines of University, so I desperately sought a field that I might get into grad school in.  I applied to all the different areas that I had taken a lot of courses in, and Philosophy accepted me.  My year in grad school at University of Nebraska had me mostly studying under Charles Sayward, and I wrote a Masters essay on how to use only finite sequences in a Tarskian theory of satisfaction (as a part of his account of truth).  That year was marked by a visit of Michael Durrant to the University of Nebraska.  And it was through him that I learned "what's hot, what's not" in Philosophy (as well as a lot about academia).


Sayward and Durrant thought that I had a PhD in me somewhere, and sent me off to UCLA.  This was an amazingly exciting place at that time, with David Lewis, Richard Montague, Montgomery Furth, David Kaplan, Sandra Peterson, Charles Chastain, Keith Gunderson, Wade Savage, John Taurek, Tom Hill, Warren Quinn and others (in Philosophy) as well as Frank Lewis in Classics and Barbara Partee in Linguistics.  While I was still a grad student, Alonzo Church, Keith Donnellan, John Perry, and Angela Davis joined the faculty.  And year-long visitors included Max Cresswell, Krister Segerberg, Hans Kamp, and Wilfrid Hodges, among many others.


I had thought I would write my dissertation under David Lewis, but he moved to Princeton; I then thought it would probably be under Richard Montague, but he was killed.  I finally wrote a dissertation on logics for Mass, Count, and Sortal terms under Monty Furth, with John Perry(!), Keith Donnellan, Frank Lewis, and Barbara Partee on the cemmittee. 


I left UCLA and took a job at the University of Alberta, where I stayed for some 30 years (other than year appointments at the University of Rochester and University of Tuebingen, and sabbatical visits at Australia National University, University of Arizona, Stanford University, and the University of Texas.


When I got to Alberta, I started taking Linguistics courses and attended Linguistics Summer Institutes.  As well, I did some Linguistic course work at the University of Texas.  This resulted in an MSc in psycholinguistics (on the subjective lexicon) under William Baker with Gary Prideaux, Bruce Derwing, Lois Stanford, and William Rozeboom on the committee.  My desire was to do further work of a more syntactic/semantic nature in linguistics, and I discovered that Len Schubert of the Computing Science Department at Alberta was doing just that.  I started with elementary programming and after a couple of years was admitted into the graduate program.  My MSc thesis was on Automated Theorem Proving rather than Computational Linguistics, although Len and I have jointly written various language-oriented articles after that time.  After I got my MSc degree, Computing Science asked me to join its faculty, and I became a joint member of both Philosophy and Computing Science for 20 years.  This suited my research (and teaching) interests well, and gave me access to NSERC grant funding, which opened my eyes to the wider world of academic scholarship.


In 1990 I took up a Henry Luce Chair in Cognitive Science at the University of Rochester, to where Len Schubert had moved a few years earlier.  Here I became closer with Greg Carlson and other researchers there.  But due to financial difficulties at the University of Rochester (which involved an attempt to close the graduate program in Philosophy and pretty much a canceling of the Cognitive Science program) I moved back to Alberta.


In January 2004 I accepted a Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Science, with a joint professorship in Philosophy and in Linguistics at Simon Fraser University, where I am now.  And although I was always very happy at the University of Alberta, I am now quite happy at SFU.